Our brain as capital. The ethical desirability of moral enhancement.

Ons brein als investering. De ethische wenselijkheid van morele mensverbetering.
Start - End 
2014 - 2017 (ongoing)
Research group(s) 



This project aims to investigate the moral rightness or wrongness of certain types of moral enhancement. Moral enhancement concerns a specific type of enhancement in which biomedical or other interventions are used to upgrade the moral character and behavior of a person. 'Chemical castration' for sexual offenders with pedophilia, or antipsychotics for the treatment of chronic aggressive behavior, can be described as examples of existing forms of moral enhancement. The invention of a pill that would directly increase empathy is an example of a possible future form of moral enhancement. We will investigate which types of existing or potential moral enhancements are morally defensible, from the perspective of ethical theory as well as according to Flemish and Dutch citizens and experts. We will inquire whether we should use such interventions as a general means of raising moral awareness in the population as a whole, or instead focus on individuals with impairments in moral reasoning such as persons with psychopathic, antisocial and/or aggressive personality traits. We will also focus on the difference between 'quick fixes' such as psychopharmacology, and more indirect ways of morally enhancing individuals such as behavioral therapy and biofeedback, which require more effort from the individual in question. We will analyze these and related issues in the light of various moral principles such as autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, justice, human dignity, and authenticity.