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PROBLEM, APPROACH, AND AIMS

Might some professionals – e.g. surgeons, pilots and soldiers – have a responsibility to enhance themselves, and once enhanced might they acquire greater responsibilities?

The method of wide reflective equilibrium, informed by examples drawn from legal history as well as moral intuitions uncovered by psychologists, will help to answer these questions.

This will shed new light on the relationship between responsibility and mental capacity, and help professional associations, law makers, regulators and judges develop appropriate principles.

 

SOCIAL AND POLICY RELEVANCE

This project’s central questions bear on the personal liberties of professionals, since our answers to them determine whether they may choose to not cognitively enhance themselves, what expectations may be imposed onto them, and how they may subsequently be treated if things go wrong. However, at present society is ill-equipped to address these questions, because we have never before been in a position to seriously consider the responsibilities of people with above-average mental capacities.

To our best knowledge, no professional has yet been sued for failure to cognitively enhance themselves, or for not reaching a higher standard of care while being cognitively enhanced. But this is precisely why now is the right time to prepare society. This project will therefore help develop a range of policy recommendations for use by government, law makers and judges; it will help professional associations to update their codes of conduct to take account of their members’ rights and obligations in regards to cognitive enhancement; and it will recommend ways in which the release of such drugs should be controlled to ensure that social and legal problems are not created.