Cognitiveenhancement takes many and diverse forms. Various methods of cognitiveenhancement have implications for the near future. At the same time, these technologies raise a range of ethical issues. For example, they interact with notions of authenticity, the good life, and the role of medicine in our lives. Present and anticipated methods for cognitiveenhancement also create challenges for public policy and regulation.
As scientific progress approaches the point where significant human enhancements could become reality, debates arise whether such technologies should be made available. This paper evaluates the widespread concern that human enhancements will inevitably accentuate existing inequality and analyzes whether prohibition is the optimal public policy to avoid this outcome. Beyond these empirical questions, this paper considers whether the inequality objection is a sound argument against the set of enhancements most threatening to equality, i.e., cognitive enhancements. In doing so, I (...) shall argue that cognitive enhancements can be embraced wholeheartedly, for three separate reasons. However, though the inequality objection does not sufficiently support the conclusion that cognitive enhancements should be prohibited, it raises several concerns for optimal policy design that shall be addressed here. (shrink)
There are numerous ways people can improve their cognitive capacities: good nutrition and regular exercise can produce long-term improvements across many cognitive domains, whilst commonplace stimulants such as coffee temporarily boost levels of alertness and concentration. Effects like these have been well-documented in the medical literature and they raise few ethical issues. More recently, however, clinical research has shown that the off-label use of some pharmaceuticals can, under certain conditions, have modest cognition-improving effects. Substances such as methylphenidate and (...) modafinil can improve capacities such as working memory and concentration in some healthy individuals. Unlike their more mundane predecessors, these methods of “cognitiveenhancement” are thought to raise a multitude of ethical issues. This paper presents the six principal ethical issues raised in relation to pharmacological cognitive enhancers —issues such as whether: the medical safety-profile of PCEs justifies restricting or permitting their elective or required use; the enhanced mind can be an “authentic” mind; individuals might be coerced into using PCEs;, there is a meaningful distinction to be made between the treatment vs. enhancement effect of the same PCE; unequal access to PCEs would have implications for distributive justice; and PCE use constitutes cheating in competitive contexts. In reviewing the six principal issues, the paper discusses how neuroscientific research might help advance the ethical debate. In particular, the paper presents new arguments about the contribution neuroscience could make to debates about justice, fairness, and cheating, ultimately concluding that neuroscientific research into “personalized enhancement” will be essential if policy is to be truly informed and ethical. We propose an “ethical agenda” for neuroscientific research into PCEs. (shrink)
This paper examines the claims in the debate on cognitiveenhancement in neuroethics that society wide pressure to enhance can be expected in the near future. The author uses rational choice modeling to test these claims and proceeds with the analysis of proposed types of solutions. The discourage use, laissez-faire and prohibition types of policy are scrutinized for effectiveness, legitimacy and associated costs. Special attention is given to the moderately liberal discourage use policy (and the gate-keeper and taxation (...) approaches within this framework), as many authors presuppose that this type of policy would best serve public interest. Different more or less articulated models in the taxation approach (Tobacco regulation analogy, Coffee-shop system, Regulatory Authority for Cognitive Enhancements and Economic Disincentives Model) are analyzed from the point of view of justificatory liberalism. The author concludes that prohibition and laissez-faire types of policy would neither be effective nor justified. A moderately liberal public policy shows more promise, but not all approaches within this type of policy would be legitimate and effective. The “gate-keeper” approach and related models could not be justified whereas approach based on taxation with suitable models might be legitimate and effective. (shrink)
There are a number of premises underlying much of the vigorous debate on pharmacological cognitiveenhancement. 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 cognitiveenhancement. 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 cognitiveenhancement 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. (shrink)
This article explores the respective roles that medical and technological cognitive enhancements, on the one hand, and the moral and epistemic virtues traditionally understood, on the other, can play in enabling us to lead the good life. It will be shown that neither the virtues nor cognitive enhancements on their own are likely to enable most people to lead the good life. While the moral and epistemic virtues quite plausibly are both necessary and sufficient for the good life (...) in theory, virtue ethics is often criticised for being elitist and unachievable in practice for the vast majority. Some cognitive enhancements, on the other hand, might be necessary for the good life but are far from sufficient for such an existence. Here it will be proposed that a combination of virtue and some cognitive enhancements is preferable. (shrink)
The prospects of enhancing cognitive or motor functions using neuroscience in otherwise healthy individuals has attracted considerable attention and interest in neuroethics (Farah et al., Nature Reviews Neuroscience 5:421–425, 2004; Glannon Journal of Medical Ethics 32:74–78, 2006). The use of stimulants is one of the areas which has propelled the discussion on the potential for neuroscience to yield cognition-enhancing products. However, we have found in our review of the literature that the paradigms used to discuss the non-medical use of (...) stimulant drugs prescribed for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) vary considerably. In this brief communication, we identify three common paradigms—prescription drug abuse, cognitiveenhancement, and lifestyle use of pharmaceuticals—and briefly highlight how divergences between paradigms create important “ethics blind spots”. (shrink)
The prospect of cognitiveenhancement well beyond current human capacities raises worries that the fundamental equality in moral status of human beings could be undermined. Cognitiveenhancement might create beings with moral status higher than persons. Yet, there is an expressibility problem of spelling out what the higher threshold in cognitive capacity would be like. Nicholas Agar has put forward the bold claim that we can show by means of inductive reasoning that indefinite cognitive (...)enhancement will probably mark a difference in moral status. The hope is that induction can determine the plausibility of post‐personhood existence in the absence of an account of what the higher status would be like. In this article, we argue that Agar's argument fails and, more generally, that inductive reasoning has little bearing on assessing the likelihood of post‐personhood in the absence of an account of higher status. We conclude that induction cannot bypass the expressibility problem about post‐persons. (shrink)
Vigorous debate over the moral propriety of cognitiveenhancement exists, but the views of the public have been largely absent from the discussion. To address this gap in our knowledge, four experiments were carried out with contrastive vignettes in order to obtain quantitative data on public attitudes towards cognitiveenhancement. The data collected suggest that the public is sensitive to and capable of understanding the four cardinal concerns identified by neuroethicists, and tend to cautiously accept (...) class='Hi'>cognitiveenhancement even as they recognize its potential perils. The public is biopolitically moderate, endorses both meritocratic principles and the intrinsic value of hard work, and appears to be sensitive to the salient moral issues raised in the debate. Taken together, these data suggest that public attitudes toward enhancement are sufficiently sophisticated to merit inclusion in policy deliberations, especially if we seek to align public sentiment and policy. (shrink)
Cognitiveenhancement is the use of drugs, biotechnological strategies or other means by healthy individuals aiming at the improvement of cognitive functions such as vigilance, concentration or memory without any medical need. In particular, the use of pharmacological substances has received considerable attention during the last few years. Currently, however, little is known concerning the use of cognitive enhancers, their effects in healthy individuals and the place and function of cognitiveenhancement in everyday life. (...) The purpose of the book is to give an overview of the current research on cognitiveenhancement and to provide in-depth insights into the interdisciplinary debate on cognitiveenhancement. (shrink)
In an essay on performance-enhancing drugs, author Chuck Klosterman (2007) argues that the category of enhancers extends from hallucinogens used to inspire music to steroids used to strengthen athletes—and he criticizes those who would excuse one means of enhancement while railing against the other as a form of cheating: After the summer of 1964, the Beatles started taking serious drugs, and those drugs altered their musical performance. Though it may not have been their overt intent, the Beatles took performance-enhancing (...) drugs. And . . . absolutely no one holds it against them. No one views “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver” as “less authentic” albums, despite the fact that they would not (and probably could .. (shrink)
This article connects philosophical debates about cognitiveenhancement and situated cognition. It does so by focusing on moral aspects of enhancing our cognitive abilities with the aid of external artifacts. Such artifacts have important moral dimensions that are addressed neither by the cognitiveenhancement debate nor situated cognition theory. In order to fill this gap in the literature, three moral aspects of cognitive artifacts are singled out: their consequences for brains, cognition, and culture; their (...) moral status; and their relation to personal identity. (shrink)
There is a growing literature in neuroethics dealing with the problem of cognitive neuroenhancement for healthy adults. However, discussions on this topic have tended to focus on abstract theoretical positions while concrete policy proposals and detailed models are scarce. Furthermore, discussions tend to rely solely on data from the US, while international perspectives are mostly neglected. Therefore, there is a need for a volume that deals with cognitiveenhancement comprehensively in three important ways: a) with conceptual implications (...) stemming from different points of view; b) with ethical, social and legal perspectives that would not be limited to one part of the world but reflect on the current situation in countries in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America; and c) with discussions of concrete law and policy options. Contributors for the conceptual implications section will elaborate an important general issue (e.g. ethical acceptability of direct-to-consumer-marketing in case of cognitiveenhancement drugs). Contributors for international perspectives section will provide a clear discussion on normative issues and cultural values, along with an analysis of empirical data on public attitudes on cognitiveenhancement and/or prevalence (specific to the country in question). Contributors for law and policy section will offer a justification for the general policy type they argue for (1. prohibition, 2. discourage use, 3. laissez-faire, 4. encourage use, and 5. mandatory use) in the case of specific cognitiveenhancement measure. Furthermore, they would evaluate the possible impact of a detailed regulatory model on consumption and demand, fairness in competitive settings and the social pressure to enhance. (shrink)
In an empirical study, we compared how lay people judge motivation enhancement as opposed to cognitiveenhancement. We found alienation is not seen as a danger associated with either form of enhancement. Cognitiveenhancement is seen as more morally wrong than motivation enhancement, and users of cognitiveenhancement tend to be judged as less deserving of praise and success than users of motivation enhancement. These more negative judgments of cognitive (...)enhancement may be driven by differences in perceived fairness rather than differences in effort exerted by the user, although lay people generally see effort as necessary to deservingness of praise and success. (shrink)
We investigated the acceptability and frequency of the use of cognitiveenhancement (CE) drugs and three different types of academic misconduct (plagiarism, cheating in exams, and falsifying/fabricating data). Data from a web-based survey among German university students were used. Moral acceptability was relatively low for CE drug use and moderate for academic misconduct, while the correlation of their respective acceptability was moderately weak. Prevalence of CE drug use was lower than for academic misconduct and (very) lightly correlated with (...) the prevalence of plagiarism and fabrication/falsification. Acceptability of the investigated behaviors was associated with higher prevalence rates of each behavior. (shrink)
Cognitiveenhancement is an increasingly discussed topic and policy suggestions have been put forward. We present here empirical data of views of parents of children with and without cognitive disabilities. Analysis of the interviews revealed six primary overarching themes: meanings of health and treatment; the role of medicine; harm; the ‘good’ parent; normality and self-perception; and ability. Interestingly none of the parents used the term ethics and only one parent used the term moral twice.
Recent discussions of cognitiveenhancement often note that drugs and technologies that improve cognitive performance may do so at the risk of “cheapening” our resulting cognitive achievements Arguing about bioethics, Routledge, London, 2012; Harris in Bioethics 25:102–111, 2011). While there are several possible responses to this worry, we will highlight what we take to be one of the most promising—one which draws on a recent strand of thinking in social and virtue epistemology to construct an integrationist (...) defence of cognitiveenhancement.. According to such a line, there is—despite initial appearances to the contrary—no genuine tension between using enhancements to attain our goals and achieving these goals in a valuable way provided the relevant enhancement is appropriately integrated into the agent’s cognitive architecture. In this paper, however, we show that the kind of integration recommended by such views will likely come at a high cost. More specifically, we highlight a dilemma for users of pharmacological cognitiveenhancement: they can meet the conditions for cognitive integration at the significant risk of dangerous dependency, or remain free of such dependency while foregoing integration and the valuable achievements that such integration enables. After motivating and clarifying the import of this dilemma, we offer recommendations for how future cognitiveenhancement research may offer potential routes for navigating past it. (shrink)
abstract As history shows, some human beings are capable of acting very immorally. 1 Technological advance and consequent exponential growth in cognitive power means that even rare evil individuals can act with catastrophic effect. The advance of science makes biological, nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction easier and easier to fabricate and, thus, increases the probability that they will come into the hands of small terrorist groups and deranged individuals. Cognitiveenhancement by means of drugs, implants (...) and biological (including genetic) interventions could thus accelerate the advance of science, or its application, and so increase the risk of the development or misuse of weapons of mass destruction. We argue that this is a reason which speaks against the desirability of cognitiveenhancement, and the consequent speedier growth of knowledge, if it is not accompanied by an extensive moral enhancement of humankind. We review the possibilities for moral enhancement by biomedical and genetic means and conclude that, though it should be possible in principle, it is in practice probably distant. There is thus a reason not to support cognitiveenhancement in the foreseeable future. However, we grant that there are also reasons in its favour, but we do not attempt to settle the balance between these reasons for and against. Rather, we conclude that if research into cognitiveenhancement continues, as it is likely to, it must be accompanied by research into moral enhancement. (shrink)
Should the development of pharmacological cognitive enhancers raise worries about doping in cognitively demanding activities? In this paper, we argue against using current evidence relating to enhancement to justify a ban on cognitive enhancers using the example of chess. It is a mistake to assume that enhanced cognitive functioning on psychometric testing is transferable to chess performance because cognitive expertise is highly complex and in large part not merely a function of the sum specific sub-processes. (...) A deeper reason to doubt that pharmacological cognitive enhancers would be as significant in mind sports is the misleading parallel with physical enhancement. We will make the case that cognitive performance is less mechanical in nature than physical performance. We draw lessons from this case example of chess for the regulation of cognitiveenhancement more generally in education and the professions. Premature regulation runs the risk of creating a detrimental culture of suspicion that ascribes unwarranted blame. (shrink)
A common epistemological assumption in contemporary bioethics held b y both proponents and critics of non-traditional forms of cognitiveenhancement is that cognitiveenhancement aims at the facilitation of the accumulation of human knowledge. This paper does three central things. First, drawing from recent work in epistemology, a rival account of cognitiveenhancement, framed in terms of the notion of cognitive achievement rather than knowledge, is proposed. Second, we outline and respond to an (...) axiological objection to our proposal that draws from recent work by Leon Kass (2004), Michael Sandel (2009), and John Harris (2011) to the effect that ‘enhanced’ cognitive achievements are (by effectively removing obstacles to success) not worthy of pursuit, or are otherwise ‘trivial’. Third, we show how the cognitive achievement account of cognitiveenhancement proposed here fits snugly with recent active externalist approaches (e.g., extended cognition) in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science. (shrink)
Irrespective of the presence of formal norms, behaviours such as plagiarism, data fabrication and falsification are commonly regarded as unethical and unfair. Almost unanimously, they are considered forms of academic misconduct. Is this the case also for newer behaviours that technology is making possible and are now entering the academic scenario?In the current paper we focus on cognitiveenhancement, the use of drugs to enhance cognitive skills of an otherwise healthy individual. At present, there are no formal (...) rules forbidding its use in the academic setting. However, it is not clear whether there is a general public sentiment that CE should be considered as a modern form of academic misconduct.By means of the Contrastive Vignette Technique, we collected quantitative data from 284 online surveys to directly compare the attitude of the general public towards CE and plagiarism across different ethically relevant aspects. Our aim was to understand whether the use of prescription drugs to enhance a healthy person’s cognitive skills is perceived similarly to a more common form of cheating, specifically plagiarism.Results show that our participants do not endorse CE. At the same time, however, their opinion on the ethical issues related to its use is not negative: rather, their attitude is more positive towards CE compared to plagiarism. This seems to pose against the idea that, at present, the use of cognitive enhancers in academic environments is regarded as a form of cheating. (shrink)
We ask why pharmacological cognitiveenhancement (PCE) is generally deemed morally unacceptable by lay people. Our approach to this question has two core elements. First, we employ an interdisciplinary perspective, using philosophical rationales as base for generating psychological models. Second, by testing these models we investigate how different normative judgments on PCE are related to each other. Based on an analysis of the relevant philosophical literature, we derive two psychological models that can potentially explain the judgment that PCE (...) is unacceptable: the “Unfairness-Undeservingness Model” and the “Hollowness-Undeservingness Model.” The Unfairness-Undeservingness Model holds that people judge PCE to be unacceptable because they take it to produce unfairness and to undermine the degree to which PCE-users deserve reward. The Hollowness-Undeservingness Model assumes that people judge PCE to be unacceptable because they find achievements realized while using PCE hollow and undeserved. We empirically test both models against each other using a regression-based approach. When trying to predict judgments regarding the unacceptability of PCE using judgments regarding unfairness, hollowness, and undeservingness, we found that unfairness judgments were the only significant predictor of the perceived unacceptability of PCE, explaining about 36% of variance. As neither hollowness nor undeservingness had explanatory power above and beyond unfairness, the Unfairness-Undeservingness Model proved superior to the Hollowness-Undeservingness Model. This finding also has implications for the Unfairness-Undeservingness Model itself: either a more parsimonious single-factor “Fairness Model” should replace the Unfairness-Undeservingness-Model or fairness fully mediates the relationship between undeservingness and unacceptability. Both explanations imply that participants deemed PCE unacceptable because they judged it to be unfair. We conclude that concerns about unfairness play a crucial role in the subjective unacceptability of PCE and discuss the implications of our approach for the further investigation of the psychology of PCE. (shrink)
This book critically explores and analyses the scientific and ethical debates surrounding cognitive enhancers. Including contributions from neuroscientists, neuropsychopharmacologists, ethicists, philosophers, public health professionals, and policy researchers, the book offers a multidisciplinary, critical consideration of this topic.
In this article we argue that the principle of need, on some interpretations, could be used to justify the spending of publically funded health care resources on cognitiveenhancement and that this also holds true for individuals whose cognitive capacities are considered normal.The increased, and to an extent, novel demands that the modern technology and information society places on the cognitive capacities of agents, e.g., regarding good and responsible decision-making, have blurred the line between treatment and (...)enhancement. More specifically, it has shifted upwards. As a consequence, principles of need on their most reasonable interpretations can be used to support publically funded cognitiveenhancement. At least this is so, if broader aims than curing and ameliorating diseases are included in the goals of health care. We suggest that it would be plausible to see health care as accepting such broader goals already today. (shrink)
This paper has two distinct but related goals: (1) to identify some of the potential consequences of the Internet for our cognitive abilities and (2) to suggest an approach to evaluate these consequences. I begin by outlining the Google effect, which (allegedly) shows that when we know information is available online, we put less effort into storing that information in the brain. Some argue that this strategy is adaptive because it frees up internal resources which can then be used (...) for other cognitive tasks, whereas others argue that this is maladaptive because it makes us less knowledgeable. I argue that the currently available empirical evidence in cognitive psychology does not support strong conclusions about the negative effects of the Internet on memory. Before we can make value-judgements about the cognitive effects of the Internet, we need more robust and ecologically-valid evidence. Having sketched a more nuanced picture of the Google effect, I then argue that the value of our cognitive abilities is in part intrinsic and in part instrumental, that is, they are both valuable in themselves and determined by the socio-cultural context in which these cognitive abilities are utilised. Focussing on instrumental value, I argue that, in an information society such as ours, having the skills to efficiently navigate, evaluate, compare, and synthesize online information are (under most circumstances) more valuable than having a lot of facts stored in biological memory. This is so, partly because using the Internet as an external memory system has overall benefits for education, navigation, journalism, and academic scholarship. (shrink)
Stimulant drugs, transcranial magnetic stimulation, brain-computer interfaces, and even genetic modifications are all discussed as forms of potential cognitiveenhancement. Cognitiveenhancement can be conceived as a benefit-seeking strategy used by healthy individuals to enhance cognitive abilities such as learning, memory, attention, or vigilance. This phenomenon is hotly debated in the public, professional, and scientific literature. Many of the statements favoring cognitiveenhancement or opposing it rely on claims about human welfare and human (...) flourishing. But with real-world evidence from the social and psychological sciences often missing to support these claims, the debate about cognitiveenhancement is stalled. In this paper, we describe a set of crucial debated questions about psychological and social aspects of cognitiveenhancement and explain why they are of fundamental importance to address in the cognitiveenhancement debate and in future research. We propose studies targeting social and psychological outcomes associated with cognitive enhancers. We also voice a call for scientific evidence, inclusive of but not limited to biological health outcomes, to thoroughly assess the impact of enhancement. This evidence is needed to engage in empirically informed policymaking, as well as to promote the mental and physical health of users and non-users of enhancement. (shrink)
Cognitiveenhancement aims at optimizing a specific class of information-processing functions: cognitive functions, physically realized by the human brain. This article deals with ethical issues in cognitiveenhancement. It discusses some standard conceptual issues related to the notion of “cognitiveenhancement” and then continues from a purely descriptive point of view by briefly reviewing some empirical aspects and sketching the current situation. Several enhancement strategies are being tested and used. Then the chapter (...) offers some reflections on the treatment or enhancement distinction. It turns to normative issues by describing standard topics in current debates, then highlighting three examples of relevant novel questions under an ethical perspective. It is of central importance to be able to draw on long-term studies yielding data on the benefits, risks, and side-effects involved in the use of such substances over months and years. It concludes by making some general proposals for policy makers. (shrink)
The Internet has been identified in human enhancement scholarship as a powerful cognitiveenhancement technology. It offers instant access to almost any type of information, along with the ability to share that information with others. The aim of this paper is to critically assess the enhancement potential of the Internet. We argue that unconditional access to information does not lead to cognitiveenhancement. The Internet is not a simple, uniform technology, either in its composition, (...) or in its use. We will look into why the Internet as an informational resource currently fails to enhance cognition. We analyze some of the phenomena that emerge from vast, continual fluxes of information–information overload, misinformation and persuasive design—and show how they could negatively impact users’ cognition. Methods for mitigating these negative impacts are then advanced: individual empowerment, better collaborative systems for sorting and categorizing information, and the use of artificial intelligence assistants that could guide users through the informational space of today’s Internet. (shrink)
This article presents a model for regulating cognitiveenhancement devices. Recently, it has become very easy for individuals to purchase devices which directly modulate brain function. For example, transcranial direct current stimulators are increasingly being produced and marketed online as devices for cognitiveenhancement. Despite posing risks in a similar way to medical devices, devices that do not make any therapeutic claims do not have to meet anything more than basic product safety standards. We present the (...) case for extending existing medical device legislation to cover CEDs. Medical devices and CEDs operate by the same or similar mechanisms and pose the same or similar risks. This fact coupled with the arbitrariness of the line between treatment and enhancement count in favour of regulating these devices in the same way. In arguing for this regulatory model, the paper highlights potential challenges to its implementation, and suggests solutions. (shrink)
Pharmacological substances used to improve cognition and brain function range from dietary supplements and caffeine to drugs targeted at altering particular neurochemical concentrations in the brain. This article considers current scientific research into pharmaceutical cognitiveenhancement and likely future directions. Then it discusses the trends in the use of PCEs within patients groups for whom they were intended, as well as in those for whom they were not originally intended, including healthy adults and children. Finally, it provides an (...) overview of current and future ethical considerations and concludes that the use of PCE will likely continue both within patient and healthy individuals in the foreseeable future. Information regarding actual use, benefits, and harms in various populations is severely lacking. Therefore, more emphasis should be placed on obtaining the relevant empirical data, for example, by the long-term monitoring of effectiveness and side effects, and by accurate large-scale surveys to assess actual usage. (shrink)
Cognitiveenhancement may be defined as the amplification or extension of core capacities of the mind through improvement or augmentation of internal or external information processing systems. Cognition refers to the processes an organism uses to organize information. These include acquiring information (perception), selecting (attention), representing (understanding) and retaining (memory) information, and using it to guide behavior (reasoning and coordination of motor outputs). Interventions to improve cognitive function may be directed at any of these core faculties.
: This article focuses on cognitiveenhancement technologies and their possible anthropological implications, and argues for a reconsideration of the human-technology relation so as to be able to better understand and assess these implications. Current debates on cognitiveenhancement consistently disregard the intimate intertwinement of humans and technology as well as the fundamentally technogenic nature of anthropogenesis. Yet, an adequate assessment of CET requires an in-depth and up-to-date re-conceptualization of both. Employing insights from the work of (...) Bernard Stiegler, this article proposes an organology and pharmacology of CE. What is typical about new CET is their interiorizing nature, which can be expected to fundamentally reshape organological configurations. Starting from the premise that CE is a phenomenon that predominantly unfolds within the current conjuncture of cognitive capitalism, I will present the issue of cognitive proletarianization as being of crucial importance for considering CE. I conclude by providing some methodological guidelines for the development of a positive pharmacology of CET and by suggesting that CET should be considered as technologies of the self sensu Michel Foucault. (shrink)
In work on the ethics of cognitiveenhancement use, there is a pervasive concern that such enhancement will—in some way—make us less authentic. Attempts to clarify what this concern amounts to and how to respond to it often lead to debates on the nature of the “true self” and what constitutes “genuine human activity”. This paper shows that a new and effective way to make progress on whether certain cases of cognitiveenhancement problematically undermine authenticity (...) is to make use of considerations from the separate debate on the nature of authentic emotion. Drawing in particular on Wasserman and Liao, the present paper offers new conditions that can help us assess the impact of cognitive enhancements on authenticity. (shrink)
This article states that drugs could be used to produce, if not more intelligent individuals, at least individuals with better cognitive functioning. Cognitive functioning is something that we might strive to produce through education, including of course the more general health education of the community. Enhancements are good if and only if they make people better at doing some of the things they want to do including experiencing the world through all of the senses, assimilating and processing what (...) is experienced, remembering and understanding things better, becoming more competent, and experiencing more. Beneficial neural changes have been reported for such familiar technologies as reading, education, physical exercise, and diet. Smart drugs create irresistible competitive pressures such that once they are used everyone is forced to follow in order to keep up, and this is coercive and corrosive. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that cognitiveenhancement cannot be epistemically beneficial since getting things right in particular and epistemic agency in general both presuppose a kind of achievement. Drawing on Aristotle’s ethics, I distinguish four categories of actions: caused, attributable, responsible, and creditable. I conclude that to the extent that cognitiveenhancement is incompatible with the latter category it undermines rather than strengthens autonomous agency in the realm of cognition.
There is mounting evidence that non-invasive brain stimulation devices - transcranial direct current stimulation and transcranial magnetic stimulation could be used for cognitiveenhancement. However, the regulatory environment surrounding such uses of stimulation devices is less clear than for stimulant drugs—a fact that has already been commercially exploited by several companies. In this paper, the mechanism of action, uses and adverse effects of non-invasive neurostimulation devices are reviewed, along with social and ethical challenges pertaining to their use as (...)cognitive enhancements. Two regulatory approaches that could be used to facilitate responsible use of these devices as products and services are outlined. Apart from establishing the urgently needed comprehensive regulatory framework, they might provide a starting point for establishing long term physiological and social effects of enhancement uses of tDCS and TMS. (shrink)
In the debates regarding the ethics of human enhancement, proponents have found it difficult to refute the concern, voiced by certain bioconservatives, that cognitiveenhancement violates the autonomy of the enhanced. However, G. Owen Schaefer, Guy Kahane and Julian Savulescu have attempted not only to avoid autonomy-based bioconservative objections, but to argue that cognition-enhancing biomedical interventions can actually enhance autonomy. In response, this paper has two aims: firstly, to explore the limits of their argument; secondly, and more (...) importantly, to develop a more complete understanding of autonomy and its relation to cognitiveenhancement. By drawing a distinction between the capacity for autonomy and the exercise and achievement of autonomy and by exploring the possible effects of cognitiveenhancement on both competence and authenticity conditions for autonomy, the paper identifies and explains which dimensions of autonomy can and cannot, in principle, be enhanced via direct cognitive interventions. This allows us to draw conclusions regarding the limits of cognitiveenhancement as a means for enhancing autonomy. (shrink)
Limitless is a movie (released in 2011) as well as a novel (published in 2001) about a tormented author who (plagued by a writer’s block) becomes an early user of an experimental designer drug. The wonder drug makes him highly productive overnight and even allows him to make a fortune on the stock market. At the height of his career, however, the detrimental side-effects become increasingly noticeable. In this article, Limitless is analysed from two perspectives. First of all, building on (...) the views of the French novelist Emile Zola, the novel is seen as the report of a closely monitored experiment. Subsequently, building on the phenomenology of Ludwig Binswanger, I will show how the cognitiveenhancement drug not only boosts the protagonist’s information processing capacities, but also modifies his experience of space and time, his sense of spatiality, his way of being-in-the-world. On the basis of these (complementary) analyses I will indicate how genres of the imagination (such as movies and novels) may play a significant role in assessing the societal implications of emerging technological developments such as neuro-enhancement, especially during the preparatory or anticipatory stage. (shrink)