Peter Tsu
National Chung Cheng University
Pei-Hua Huang
Erasmus Medical Centre
Biomedical moral enhancement, or BME for short, aims to improve people’s moral behaviors through augmenting, via biomedical means, their virtuous dispositions such as sympathy, honesty, courage, or generosity. Recently, it has been challenged, on particularist grounds, however, that the manifestations of the virtuous dispositions can be morally wrong. For instance, being generous in terrorist financing is one such case. If so, biomedical moral enhancement, by enhancing people’s virtues, might turn out to be counterproductive in terms of people’s moral behaviors. In this paper, we argue, via a comparison with moral education, that the case for the practice of biomedical moral enhancement is not weakened by the particularists’ stress on the variable moral statuses of the manifestations of our virtues. The real challenge from the particularists, we argue, lies elsewhere. It is that practical wisdom, being essentially context-sensitive, cannot be enhanced via biomedical means. On the basis of this, we further argue that BME ought to be used with great caution, for it may wrongly enhance, for instance, a terrorist financier’s generosity, a robber’s courage, or an undercover detective’s honesty. Finally, we sketch how boundaries can be set on the use of BME, and address some potential objections to our position.
Keywords biomedical moral enhancement  moral particularism  moral bioenhancement  Julian Savulescu
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/S1358246118000358
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: 69,089
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Moral Enhancement and Freedom.John Harris - 2011 - Bioethics 25 (2):102-111.
Moral Enhancement.Thomas Douglas - 2008 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 25 (3):228-245.

View all 22 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Moral Enhancement, Self-Governance, and Resistance.Pei-Hua Huang - 2018 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 43 (5):547-567.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Moral Enhancement.Thomas Douglas - 2008 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 25 (3):228-245.
Climate Change and Human Moral Enhancement.Tvrtko Jolic - 2014 - In Mladen Domazet & Dinka Marinovic Jerolimov (eds.), Sustainability Perspectives from the European Semi-periphery. Institute for social research. pp. 79-91.
The Misfortunes of Moral Enhancement.Marco Antonio Azevedo - 2016 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 41 (5):461-479.
Moral Perfection and the Demand for Human Enhancement.Adriana Warmbier - forthcoming - Ethics in Progress 2015 (No.1).
Voluntary Moral Enhancement and the Survival-at-Any-Cost Bias.Vojin Rakić - 2014 - Journal of Medical Ethics 40 (4):246-250.


Added to PP index

Total views
43 ( #261,150 of 2,498,995 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #421,180 of 2,498,995 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes