Lawyer argues against cognitive enhancement

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http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/healthlawprof_blog/2009/04/a-reason-against-cognitiveenhancing-drugs.html « Prosecutorial Misconduct in Painkiller Distribution Case | Main | The Evolution of the Rabbit » April 11, 2009 An Argument Against Cognitive-Enhancing Drugs Professor Justin Barnard writes on the Public Discourse: Ethics, Law and the Common Good website, and provides an excellent argument against the use of cognitive enhancing drugs. He argues, Recent calls for the widespread use of cognitive enhancements are based on a narrow, mechanistic view of what it means to be human. In a recent issue of Nature , several prominent intellectuals call for public policies that support the “responsible use” of cognitive-enhancing drugs by healthy citizens. “We should welcome new methods of improving our brain function,” they write. “In a world in which human work-spans and life-spans are increasing, cognitive enhancement tools—including the pharmacological—will be increasingly useful for improved quality of life and extended work productivity, as well as to stave off normal and pathological age-related cognitive declines. Safe and effective cognitive enhancers will benefit both the individual and society.” Their essay is illustrative, not merely of a new public policy challenge we will face in the biotech age, but also of the kind of reasoning one invariably hears in public discussions about such issues. In a nutshell, their case is pragmatic and utilitarian. And along the way, they are utterly dismissive of the most substantive arguments, reasons that, if heard, would threaten to undermine the apparent sober- mindedness of their perspective. . . . . Of course, no citizen of good will should disregard these three in conversations about the shape of public policy, especially on issues such as the production and distribution of powerful narcotics. But the idea, as this essay suggests, that such practical or utilitarian concerns are matters of first or perhaps even exclusive importance is mistaken. Rather, as the logic of the essay itself tacitly reveals, it is our
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