Journal of Applied Philosophy 33 (1):88-106 (2016)

Christoph Bublitz
Universität Hamburg
Promotion of pro-social attitudes and moral behaviour is a crucial and challenging task for social orders. As traditional ways such as moral education have some, but apparently and unfortunately only limited effect, some authors have suggested employing biomedical means such as pharmaceuticals or electrical stimulation of the brain to alter individual psychologies in a more direct way — moral bioenhancement. One of the salient questions in the nascent ethical debate concerns the impact of such interventions on human freedom. Advocates argue that moral bioenhancements do not pose a serious threat to freedom. This contention, however, is based on an overly narrow, if not impoverished, sense of freedom, which comprises only freedom of action and freedom of will. Mind-altering interventions primarily affect another sense of freedom: freedom of mind, a concept that has not received much attention although it should rank among the most important legal and political freedoms. The article introduces three senses of mental freedom potentially infringed upon by moral bioenhancement and places it in a broader perspective. Ignorance of mental freedom has far-ranging consequences for the shape of the political and legal order at large. As many advocates are apparently not aware of the freedoms they seek to undermine, their calls for moral enhancement programmes are dangerously premature
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DOI 10.1111/japp.12108
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