Brains invites an early career philosopher (graduate student, post-doc, or person who earned their PhD in the past five years) to act as a commentator for our upcoming symposium on an article appearing in the journal Neuroethics. The symposia will be similar to ones we have run the past two years on papers from Mind & Language, which can be viewed here: http://philosophyofbrains.com/category/mind-language-symposia.
The first symposium is scheduled to happen this upcoming August, and will discuss Farah Focquaert and Maartje Schermer’s paper entitled “Moral Enhancement: Do means matter morally?” The abstract for the paper is below. Anyone interested in acting as an early career commentator may submit a short abstract of their proposed commentary (less than 500 words) to Katrina Sifferd via email (email@example.com) by June 1. A full copy of the paper to be discussed is available upon emailed request.
The commentator will be chosen by a panel based upon the submitted abstracts.
Moral Enhancement: Do Means Matter Morally?
Farah Focquaert, Maartje Schermer
One of the reasons why moral enhancement may be controversial, is because the advantages of moral enhancement may fall upon society rather than on those who are enhanced. If directed at individuals with certain counter-moral traits it may have direct societal benefits by lowering immoral behavior and increasing public safety, but it is not directly clear if this also benefits the individual in question. In this paper, we will discuss what we consider to be moral enhancement, how different means may be used to achieve it and whether the means we employ to reach moral enhancement matter morally. Are certain means to achieve moral enhancement wrong in themselves? Are certain means to achieve moral enhancement better than others, and if so, why? More specifically, we will investigate whether the difference between direct and indirect moral enhancement matters morally. Is it the case that indirect means are morally preferable to direct means of moral enhancement and can we indeed pinpoint relevant intrinsic, moral differences between both? We argue that the distinction between direct and indirect means is indeed morally relevant, but only insofar as it tracks an underlying distinction between active and passive interventions. Although passive interventions can be ethical provided specific safeguards are put in place, these interventions exhibit a greater potential to compromise autonomy and disrupt identity.