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Suppose, we could take a pill that would turn us into morally better people. Would we have a duty to take such a pill? In recent years, a number of philosophers have discussed this issue. Most prominently, Ingmar Persson and Julian Savulescu have argued that we would have a duty to take such a pill. In this article, I wish to investigate the possible limits of a duty to take moral enhancement drugs through investigating the related question of whether it would be desirable to create a world populated entirely with morally perfect people. I argue, drawing on the work of Bernard Williams, Susan Wolf, and Michael Slote, that we have reason to be grateful that we do not live a world in which everyone is morally perfect, as this would prevent people from dedicating their lives to valuable nonmoral projects. I then argue that this thought should serve as a limitation on attempts to morally improve people through the use of technology. Finally, I explore the implications of this discussion for some of the less ambitious forms of moral enhancement currently being explored in the literature. I argue that these forms of enhancement give us no reason to worry about preventing valuable, morally imperfect ways of life. In fact, by acting as a shortcut to moral development, they might serve as an aid to help people fulfill valuable nonmoral goals in a way that is morally permissible.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: The Journal of medicine and philosophy
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The cognitive and affective processes which constitute an internalized moral governor over an individual's moral conduct.
The state or condition of being a human individual accorded moral and/or legal rights. Criteria to be used to determine this status are subject to debate, and range from the requirement of simply being a human organism to such requirements as that the individual be self-aware and capable of rational thought and moral agency.
Duties that are based in ETHICS, rather than in law.
The moral and ethical obligations or responsibilities of institutions.
The intrinsic moral worth ascribed to a living being. (Bioethics Thesaurus)
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