Moral Enhancement. Enhancing Motivational Processes and Agent-Based Ethics
The Idea of Excellence and Human Enhancement Reconsidering the Debate on Transhumanism in Light of Moral Philosophy and Science, ISBN: 978-3-631-71834-6, 2018
28 Pages Posted: 10 Oct 2018
Date Written: 2018
The philosophical approach to the idea of moral enhancement addresses central ethical issues such as agency, autonomy, self-development, and the normative character of human action. It has been argued that biomedical moral enhancement, which, as its proponents believe, will improve our motivational processes in moral decision making, provide better impulse control, and increase our willingness to cooperate with others, is problematic in both its implications and reasoning. After a short presentation of the concept of moral bioenhancement, I formulate two counter-arguments which aim to demonstrate that in so far as we identify improving one’s moral dispositions in terms of a paternalistic intervention, thus reducing agency to a mere form of experience, we have little prospect of success in bringing about a person who would more likely arrive at the right choices. I argue that a plausible conception of moral self-improvement must appeal to the core problem of normativity, which manifests itself in the relation between one’s attitude toward reasons and toward the values that are constitutive for one’s ends and priorities. The criticism of both the narrow understanding of moral action and the deliberate avoidance of the question of what constitutes “morally better motives” is strengthened through the suggested alternative: an Aristotelian account of the reflective processes of cognition, motivation, and action, which are integrally related to the idea of phronesis. I explore the possibility of applying agent-based ethics in the moral enhancement debate, arguing that virtue ethics is not only defensible, but may be also regarded as an attractive alternative to the idea of using biomedical methods for self-improvement.
Keywords: Moral enhancement, Moral improvement, Virtue ethics, Aristotelian Phronesis, Kant
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