Bioethics (forthcoming)

Sofie Møller
Goethe University Frankfurt
This paper challenges the role individual autonomy has played in debates on moral neuroenhancement (MN). It shows how John Hyman’s analysis of agency as consisting of functionally integrated dimensions allows us to reassess the impact of MN on practical agency. I discuss how MN affects what Hyman terms the four dimensions of agency: psychological, ethical, intellectual, and physical. Once we separate the different dimensions of agency, it becomes clear that many authors in the debate conflate the different dimensions in the concept they call ‘autonomous agents’. They contend that, for example, reason-giving and previous autonomous acts are relevant to agency as such, when in fact they capture only one aspect of functionally integrated agency. This paper reconsiders MN in light of the functional integration of reason and emotions in practical agency. To illustrate the impact of MN on different aspects of agency, I consider examples from legal practice, which show that autonomy cannot be our sole focus when evaluating the moral implications of MN.
Keywords John Hyman  agency  autonomy  functional integration  moral neuroenhancement
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DOI 10.1111/bioe.13040
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