Moral Neuroenhancement for Prisoners of War

Neuroethics 15 (1):1-20 (2022)
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Moral agential neuroenhancement can transform us into better people. However, critics of MB raise four central objections to MANEs use: It destroys moral freedom; it kills one moral agent and replaces them with another, better agent; it carries significant risk of infection and illness; it benefits society but not the enhanced person; and it’s wrong to experiment on nonconsenting persons. Herein, I defend MANE’s use for prisoners of war fighting unjustly. First, the permissibility of killing unjust combatants entails that, in cases where MANE is equally or more likely as termination to reduce moral recidivism in unjust combatants, then MANE is morally justified. Second, the relevant infections and illnesses caused by MANE are less bad than death, so MANE leaves unjust POWs better off than the alternative. Third, just as incarceration is often permissible despite benefitting society but not the incarcerated, the same holds for unjust POWs. Fourth, we should accept a broader construal of “benefit” that includes moral benefits. Thus, 3 and 4 are false when applied to unjust POWs. Fifth, medical experimentation likely to help nonconsenting persons is sometimes permissible. Because MANE is likely to help unjust POWs irrespective of their consent or lack thereof, its use is permissible. Sixth, basic principles of proper medical care support the use of MANE on unjust POWs as pro tanto morally obligatory. I conclude that militaries should therefore begin to employ MANE for unjust POWs.



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Blake Hereth
University of Pennsylvania

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Republicanism: a theory of freedom and government.Philip Pettit (ed.) - 1997 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Killing in war.Jeff McMahan - 2009 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Moral enhancement and freedom.John Harris - 2010 - Bioethics 25 (2):102-111.

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