Moral Enhancement Should Target Self-Interest and Cognitive Capacity

Neuroethics 10 (3):363-373 (2017)
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Abstract

Current suggestions for capacities that should be targeted for moral enhancement has centered on traits like empathy, fairness or aggression. The literature, however, lacks a proper model for understanding the interplay and complexity of moral capacities, which limits the practicability of proposed interventions. In this paper, I integrate some existing knowledge on the nature of human moral behavior and present a formal model of prosocial motivation. The model provides two important results regarding the most friction-free route to moral enhancement. First, we should consider decreasing self-interested motivation rather than increasing prosociality directly. Second, this should be complemented with cognitive enhancement. These suggestions are tested against existing and emerging evidence on cognitive capacity, mindfulness meditation and the effects of psychedelic drugs and are found to have sufficient grounding for further theoretical and empirical exploration. Furthermore, moral effects of the latter two are hypothesized to result from a diminished sense of self with subsequent reductions in self-interest.

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Citations of this work

Psychedelic Moral Enhancement.Brian D. Earp - 2018 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 83:415-439.
Robotic Nudges for Moral Improvement through Stoic Practice.Michał Klincewicz - 2019 - Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 23 (3):425-455.
Psychedelics and environmental virtues.Nin Kirkham & Chris Letheby - 2022 - Philosophical Psychology 1:1-25.

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References found in this work

Morals by agreement.David P. Gauthier - 1986 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The metaphysics of morals.Immanuel Kant - 1797/1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Mary J. Gregor.
Moral enhancement and freedom.John Harris - 2010 - Bioethics 25 (2):102-111.
Direct vs. Indirect Moral Enhancement.G. Owen Schaefer - 2015 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 25 (3):261-289.

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