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Imagining Moral Bioenhancement Practices: Drawing Inspiration from Moral Education, Public Health Ethics, and Forensic Psychiatry

  • JONA SPECKER and MAARTJE H.N. SCHERMER
Abstract:

In this article, we consider contexts or domains in which (future) moral bioenhancement interventions possibly or most likely will be implemented. By looking closely at similar or related existing practices and their relevant ethical frameworks, we hope to identify ethical considerations that are relevant for evaluating potential moral bioenhancement interventions. We examine, first, debates on the proper scope of moral education; second, proposals for identifying early risk factors for antisocial behaviour; and third, the difficult balancing of individual freedom and third party concerns in (forensic) psychiatry. In imagining moral bioenhancement in practice, we observe that unlike other forms of enhancement, moral enhancement fundamentally asks how the interests and preferences of the individual and the interests of others should be weighed (in view of public safety and managing public risk). Highly diverse domains such as education, mental health, and the judicial domain might be involved, and moral bioenhancement might challenge existing institutional settings. Given these highly varied contexts and domains, it appears unlikely that there will be a distinct set of practices that will be referred to as “moral bioenhancement.”

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An earlier version of this article was presented at the conference “Enhancing Understanding of Enhancement” in Belgrade, Serbia, on October 27–28, 2015. We thank audience members for their feedback. The research for this article was funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) as part of the project Our Brain as Capital.

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