Medicine Studies 3 (1):19-27 (2011)

The extra-therapeutic use of psychotropic drugs to improve cognition and to enhance mood has been the subject of controversial discussion in bioethics, in medicine but also in public for many years. Concerns over a liberal dealing with pharmacological enhancers are raised not only from a biomedical–pharmacological perspective, but particularly from an ethical one. Within these ethical concerns, there is one objection about the normative differentiation between “natural” and “artificial” enhancers, which is theoretically indeed widely discredited in bioethics, which has, however, entrenched itself in such a persistent way in everyday moral consciousness that it keeps a crucial influence on the assessment of pharmacological enhancers made by the public and medical professionals. This paper tries to first show why a normative differentiation between “natural” and “artificial” enhancers is highly problematic. In a second step, the resulting implications for our current dealing with pharmacological enhancers shall be examined. In a specific comparison of synthetic pharmaceuticals (modafinil, SSRIs) with phytopharmaceuticals (ginkgo biloba, St. John’s wort) and other already established enhancers (alcohol, caffeine), argumentative inconsistencies are pointed out which, at least partly, result from a rationally untenable preference for the “natural” over the “artificial”. Therefore, it is conclusively argued the case for an unprejudiced assessment of pharmacological enhancers beyond a “natural”–“artificial” dichotomy, which equally takes into account biomedical and ethical aspects. The goal is to reach a coherent dealing with pharmacological enhancement in the long run
Keywords Cognitive enhancement  Mood enhancement  Neuroethics  Normativity  Naturalness  Psychopharmacology
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s12376-011-0060-x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 68,916
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Neuroethics: Challenges for the 21st Century.Neil Levy - 2007 - Cambridge University Press.
Listening to Prozac.Peter D. Kramer - 1994 - Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 37 (3):460.
Prozac, Enhancement, and Self‐Creation.David Degrazia - 2000 - Hastings Center Report 30 (2):34-40.
On the Argument That Enhancement is "Cheating".M. Schermer - 2008 - Journal of Medical Ethics 34 (2):85-88.

View all 17 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

One Man's Authenticity is Another Man's Betrayal: A Reply to Levy.Alexandre Erler - 2012 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 29 (3):257-265.
Psychopharmacological Enhancement.Walter Glannon - 2008 - Neuroethics 1 (1):45-54.
Cognitive Enhancement, Cheating, and Accomplishment.Rob Goodman - 2010 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 20 (2):pp. 145-160.
Ethical Issues in Human Enhancement.Nick Bostrom & Rebecca Roache - 2007 - In J. Ryberg, T. Petersen & C. Wolf (eds.), New Waves in Applied Ethics. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 120--152.


Added to PP index

Total views
51 ( #220,125 of 2,497,995 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #428,301 of 2,497,995 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes