Saturday, February 02, 2013

better living through chemistry and biology

A recent article on modifying ethical and virtue behavior, from the Journal of Medical Ethics talks about the ethics of modifying human behavior.  From the paper:
Here are some examples of non-traditional means of moral enhancement:
▸ Glucose as a means of increasing resistance to temptation to do something wrong or to stop trying to do what one should
▸ Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors as a means to being less inclined to assault people
▸ Propranolol as a means of decreasing unconscious racial bias.
▸ Deep-brain stimulation (eg, electrical stimulation of the amygdala) as a means to reducing aggression
▸ Neurofeedback to increase sympathy and/or treat antisocial personality disorder (psychopathy)
▸ Selection of embryos that contain a gene coding for a greater disposition to altruism
▸ Genetic interventions to gametes, embryos or postnatal human beings as a means to the same end
▸ Embryo selection or genetic engineering as a means of avoiding or neutralising genes associated with antisocial personality disorder
▸ Either of these means as a way of securing a stronger predisposition to fairness
▸ An artificial chromosome that includes multiple genes coding for stronger predispositions to a variety of moral virtues\

The original article can be found at 

Or, a copy is available here:

How do we differentiate between "moral improvement" (that is, reducing tendency for aggression, violent assault, antisocial personality disorders)  and the improvement obtained by athletes using doping (thank you, Lance Armstrong)?

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