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What is Moral Enhancement?

  • Mark Rowlands (a1)

The idea of moral enhancement has no clear meaning. This is because the idea of being moral has no clear meaning. There are numerous ways in which one might go astray, morally speaking, and each of these ways, in turn, fragments on further analysis. The concept of moral enhancement is as broad, messy, and mottled as the reasons why people behave badly. This mottled character of moral failure calls into question the feasibility of (non-traditional) programmes of moral enhancement.

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1 See Rowlands, Mark, The Philosopher and the Wolf (London: Granta, 2008) and also The Structure of Evil’, in Linzey, A. (ed.), The Link Between Animals Abuse and Human Violence (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press), 201–5.

2 Korsgaard, Christine, ‘Fellow Creatures: Kantian Ethics and Our Duties to Animals’, in Peterson, G. (ed.), Tanner Lectures on Human Values (Salt Like City: University of Utah Press, 2004).

3 Nisbett, R. and Wilson, T., ‘Telling More Than We Can Know: Verbal Reports on Mental Processes’, Psychological Review 84:3 (1977), 231–59.

4 Wegner, D., The Illusion of Conscious Will (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002).

5 Slote, Michael, ‘Virtue Ethics’, in Skorupski, J. (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Ethics (London: Routledge, 2010) 478–89; Foot, Philippa, Virtues and Vices and Other Essays in Moral Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1978); McDowell, John, ‘Virtue and Reason’, The Monist 62:3 1979, 331–50; Hursthouse, Rosalind, On Virtue Ethics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999).

6 Aristotle, , Nicomachean Ethics, trans. by Irwin, T. (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1999), II.4.

7 Hursthouse, On Virtue Ethics.

8 Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, II.9.

9 Hume, David, A Treatise of Human Nature, ed. by Nidditch, P. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975); Smith, Adam, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. by Raphael, D. and Macfie, A. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976).

10 Rowlands, Mark, Can Animals Be Moral? (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

11 Slote, Michael, Moral Sentimentalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010).

12 Nussbaum, Martha, Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of the Emotions (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

13 Hurley, Susan, Consciousness in Action (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998).

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Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplements
  • ISSN: 1358-2461
  • EISSN: 1755-3555
  • URL: /core/journals/royal-institute-of-philosophy-supplements
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