The Myth of Cognitive Enhancement Drugs

Neuroethics 8 (3):257-269 (2015)

Authors
Hazem Zohny
University of Otago
Abstract
There are a number of premises underlying much of the vigorous debate on pharmacological cognitive enhancement. Among these are claims in the enhancement literature that such drugs exist and are effective among the cognitively normal. These drugs are deemed to enhance cognition specifically, as opposed to other non-cognitive facets of our psychology, such as mood and motivation. The focus on these drugs as cognitive enhancers also suggests that they raise particular ethical questions, or perhaps more pressing ones, compared to those raised by other kinds of neuroenhancement. Finally, the use of these drugs is often claimed to be significant and increasing. Taken together, these premises are at the heart of the flurry of debate on pharmacological cognitive enhancement. In this article, it is argued that these are presumptions for which the evidence does not hold up. Respectively, the evidence for the efficacy of these drugs is inconsistent; neurologically it makes little sense to distinguish the cognitive from non-cognitive as separate targets of pharmacological intervention; ethically, the questions raised by cognitive enhancement are in fact no different from those raised by other kinds of neuroenhancement; and finally the prevalence rates of these drugs are far from clear, with the bulk of the claims resting on poor or misrepresented data. Greater conceptual clarity along with a more tempered appreciation of the evidence can serve to deflate some of the hype in the associated literature, leading to a more realistic and sober assessment of these prospective technologies
Keywords Cognitive enhancement  Neuroethics  Drug use  Evidence  Neuroenhancement
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s12152-015-9232-9
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Cognitive Enhancement: Methods, Ethics, Regulatory Challenges. [REVIEW]Nick Bostrom - 2009 - Science and Engineering Ethics 15 (3):311-341.
Emotion Drives Attention: Detecting the Snake in the Grass.Arne Öhman, Anders Flykt & Francisco Esteves - 2001 - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 130 (3):466.
Cognitive Enhancement, Cheating, and Accomplishment.Rob Goodman - 2010 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 20 (2):pp. 145-160.

View all 19 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

The Value of Applied Philosophy.Suzanne Uniacke - 2016 - In Kimberley Brownlee, David Coady & Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen (eds.), The Blackwell Companion to Applied Philosophy. Wiley-Blackwell.

View all 10 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Integration of Cognitive and Moral Enhancement.Vojin Rakic - 2012 - Filozofija I Društvo 23 (2):91-103.
Cognitive Enhancement: Methods, Ethics, Regulatory Challenges. [REVIEW]Nick Bostrom - 2009 - Science and Engineering Ethics 15 (3):311-341.
Humility Pills: Building an Ethics of Cognitive Enhancement.Rob Goodman - 2014 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 39 (3):258-278.
Psychopharmacological Enhancement.Walter Glannon - 2008 - Neuroethics 1 (1):45-54.
Neuroenhancing Public Health.David Shaw - 2013 - Journal of Medical Ethics (6):2012-101300.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2015-04-21

Total views
613 ( #5,247 of 2,243,856 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
142 ( #2,911 of 2,243,856 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature