Moral Enhancement, at the Peak of Pharmacology and at the Limit of Ethics

10 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2020

See all articles by Ignacio Macpherson

Ignacio Macpherson

International University of Catalonia

María Victoria Roqué

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ignacio Segarra

University of Murcia

Date Written: November 2019


The debate over the improvement of moral capacity or moral enhancement through pharmacology has gained momentum in the last decade as a result of advances in neuroscience. These advances have led to the discovery and allowed the alteration of patterns of human behavior, and have permitted direct interventions on the neuronal structure of behavior. In recent years, this analysis has deepened regarding the anthropological foundations of morality and the reasons that would justify the acceptance or rejection of such technology. We present a review of proposals for pharmacological interventions directed directly towards moral enhancement. In addition, we identify the ethical dilemmas that such interventions may generate, as well as the moral assessment of the authors of these studies. There is a moderate consensus on the risks of any intervention on the intimate structure of the human condition, its autonomy and identity, but there are large differences in explaining the reasons for this concern and especially in justifying such interventions. These findings show that it is necessary to investigate the moral assessment of authors and the ethical dimension within the field of pharmacology in order to identify future trends.

Keywords: behavioral neurosciences, bioenhancement, ELSI, moral enhancement, neuroethics, psychopharmacology

Suggested Citation

Macpherson, Ignacio and Roqué, María Victoria and Segarra, Ignacio, Moral Enhancement, at the Peak of Pharmacology and at the Limit of Ethics (November 2019). Bioethics, Vol. 33, Issue 9, pp. 992-1001, 2019, Available at SSRN: or

Ignacio Macpherson (Contact Author)

International University of Catalonia ( email )


María Victoria Roqué

affiliation not provided to SSRN

No Address Available

Ignacio Segarra

University of Murcia

Avda Teniente Flomesta, 5
Murcia, Murcia 30100

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