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Unrequited: Neurochemical Enhancement of Love



I raise several concerns with Earp and colleagues' analysis of enhancement through neurochemical modulation of love as a key issue in contemporary neuroethics. These include: (i) strengthening their deflation of medicalization concerns by showing how the objection that love should be left outside of the scope of medicine would directly undermine the goal of medicine; (ii) developing stronger analysis of the social and political concerns relevant to neurochemical modulation of love, by exploring and suggesting possible counters to ways in which 'wellbeing' may be used as a tool of oppression; (iii) providing reasons to support a broad need for ecological investigation of, and indeed ecological education concerning, neurotechnology; (iv) suggesting ways in which philosophy, and the humanities more broadly, remain directly relevant to responding effectively to issues in contemporary neuroethics.



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1. Elhauge, E. I’m not quite dead yet—and other health care observations. Tulsa Law Review 2014;49:607–26, at 619.

2. See also Wudarczyk, OA, Earp, BD, Guastella, A, Savulescu, J. Could intranasal oxytocin be used to enhance relationships? Research imperatives, clinical policy, and ethical considerations. Current Opinion in Psychiatry 2013;26(5):474–84.

3. Iezzoni, LI, Rao, SR, DesRoches, CM, Vogeli, C, Campbell, EG. Survey shows that at least some physicians are not always open or honest with patients. Health Affairs 2012;31(2):383–91, at 384.

4. See note 1, Elhauge 2014. See also Earp, BD, Sandberg, A, Savulescu, J. The medicalization of love. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 2015;24(3):323–36.

5. See Purdy, L. Medicalization, medical necessity, and feminist medicine. Bioethics 2001;15(3):248–61.Gupta, K. Anti-love biotechnologies: Integrating considerations of the social. American Journal of Bioethics 2013;13(11):1819. See also note 4, Earp et al. 2015, at 330.

6. See Gupta, K. Protecting sexual diversity: Rethinking the use of neurotechnological interventions to alter sexuality. AJOB Neuroscience 2012;3(3):24–8. See also note 4, Earp et al. 2015, at 328.

7. See note 6, Gupta 2012, at 27.

8. Dodds, S. Choice and control in feminist bioethics. In: MacKenzie, C, Stoljar, N, eds. Relational Autonomy: Feminist Perspectives on Autonomy, Agency and the Social Self. Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2000:213–35.McLeod, C, Sherwin, S. Relational autonomy, self-trust, and health care for patients who are oppressed. In: MacKenzie, C, Stoljar, N, eds. Relational Autonomy: Feminist Perspectives on Autonomy, Agency and the Social Self. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000:259–79.Harbin, A. Disorientation and the medicalization of struggle. International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics 2014;7(1):99121.

9. See note 8, Harbin 2014, at 117.

10. See note 8, Dodds 2000, at 217.

11. See note 2, Wudarczyk et al. 2013, at 480–2.

12. Schechtman, M. Empathic access: The missing ingredient in personal identity. Philosophical Explorations: An International Journal for the Philosophy of Mind and Action 2001;4(2):95111.

13. See note 12, Schechtman 2001, at 102.

14. See note 12, Schechtman 2001, at 106.

15. Fromm, E. Art of loving. New York: Perennial Classics; 2000.

16. Dawkins, R. Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 2000.

17. See note 16, Dawkins 2000.

18. McGrath, AE. The Order of Things: Explorations in Scientific Theology. Oxford: Blackwell; 2006, at 58–9.


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Unrequited: Neurochemical Enhancement of Love



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