James and I discuss moral enhancement and his up and coming book Cyborg Buddha.
Moral Enhancement in this context: The use of information technology, psychopharmaceuticals, genetic engineering, brain stimulation or nano-neurotechnologies to control immoral sentiments, reasoning and behavior, and/or enhance moral sentiments, reasoning and behavior.
“Virtue Engineering.” – Transvision 06
In the near future we will have many technologies that will allow us to modify and assist our emotions and reasoning. One of the purposes we will put these technologies to is to assist our adherence to self-chosen moral codes and citizenship obligations. For instance we will be able to suppress unwelcome desires, enhance compassion and empathy, and expand our understanding our social world and the consequences of actions. So, contrary to the bioconservative accusation that neurological self-determination and human enhancement will encourage more selfishness in society, it will probably permit people to be even more moral and responsible than they currently are. (Video of Talk here)
“After Happiness, Cyborg Virtue”
Although I have used a version of utilitarianism to argue for both transhumanism and social democracy, and for the technoprogressive hybrid of the two, research in hedonic psychology and emerging neurotechnologies make utilitarianism an unattractive moral logic. Instead, I now argue that a version of Sen and Nussbaum’s capabilities approach better supports the technoprogressive endeavor. The capabilities approach argues for both social and technological enablement of human abilities. When the capabilities approach is combined with the idea that virtues are social capabilities, one conclusion is that “moral enhancement,” the use of neurotechnologies to enhance moral sentiment, cognition and behavior, is a social obligation. A schema of virtues to be enhanced, and relevant therapeutic morally enhancing neurochemicals, are discussed.
James Hughes – Director if IEET
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