Trust and Psychedelic Moral Enhancement

Neuroethics 15 (2):1-14 (2022)
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Moral enhancement proposals struggle to be both plausible and ethically defensible while nevertheless interestingly distinct from both cognitive enhancement as well as (mere) moral education. Brian Earp (_Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement_ 83:415–439, 12 ) suggests that a promising middle ground lies in focusing on the (suitably qualified) use of psychedelics as _adjuncts_ to moral development. But what would such an adjunctive use of psychedelics look like in practice? In this paper, I draw on literature from three areas where techniques for moral development have been discussed: psychotherapy (e.g., Overholser 2010; Burns 1980) education (e.g., Uhl and Lütge, 2018), and AI-assisted enhancement (e.g., Lara and Deckers, _Neuroethics_ 13(3):275–287, 17 ) in order to propose more concrete ways in which to use psychedelics as adjuncts to moral development. It is shown that in each of these areas, we can see that _trusting_ relationships (e.g., Baier 1986; Hawley 2019) between the facilitator and the agent will very plausibly maximize the success of this type of moral enhancement. Finally, I appeal to literature on informed consent for use of psychedelics (e.g., Smith and Sisti, _Journal of Medical Ethics_, 22 ; Johnson et al., _The Journal of Psychopharmacology_ 22(6):603–20, 23 ) and on the therapeutic relationship in psychotherapy (e.g., Dryden and Reeves 2013; Horvath et al. 2011) to outline concrete suggestions for facilitating dimensions of trust most likely to maximize the benefits of (adjunctive) psychedelic moral enhancement. The result is a newly detailed practical proposal for how we might best facilitate moral enhancement by using drugs as adjuncts to moral development.



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Emma C. Gordon
University of Glasgow

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References found in this work

Ruling Passions: A Theory of Practical Reasoning.Simon Blackburn - 1998 - New York: Oxford University Press UK.
Unfit for the Future: The Need for Moral Enhancement.Ingmar Persson & Julian Savulescu - 2012 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK. Edited by Julian Savulescu.
Trust and antitrust.Annette Baier - 1986 - Ethics 96 (2):231-260.
Trust.Carolyn McLeod - 2020 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Ruling Passions.Simon Blackburn - 1998 - Philosophy 75 (293):454-458.

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