A Momentary Flow

Updating Worldviews one World at a time

If we can drink coffee to improve our concentration, why not take cleverer drugs to make us cleverer? At our discussion event about cognitive enhancement in February, Lydia Harriss was on hand to consider some thorny issues. Would you take a pill to help you pass an exam? “Definitely not!” I hear at least some of you say, bristling with indignation at the mere suggestion. That would be cheating, like an athlete taking performance-enhancing drugs before a competition. But are there occasions when using cognitive-enhancing drugs – which improve mental functions such as memory, attention and information processing – would be acceptable, or even desirable? A lively discussion at ‘The Clever Pill’, in February’s series of events on neuroethics at Wellcome Collection, made me think that there might. What if cognitive-enhancing drugs (let’s call them CEDs) could be used to restore cognitive function in people who have lost some of their mental ability through injury or illness? Arguing against their use on purely ethical grounds, I think, would be difficult. Cries of ‘unfair advantage’ would seem churlish if a drug had the potential to improve a person’s quality of life, particularly if it were compensating for the loss of an ability that they’d originally had. (via Should we pass on the clever pills? « Wellcome Collection blog)

If we can drink coffee to improve our concentration, why not take cleverer drugs to make us cleverer? At our discussion event about cognitive enhancement in February, Lydia Harriss was on hand to consider some thorny issues. Would you take a pill to help you pass an exam? “Definitely not!” I hear at least some of you say, bristling with indignation at the mere suggestion. That would be cheating, like an athlete taking performance-enhancing drugs before a competition. But are there occasions when using cognitive-enhancing drugs – which improve mental functions such as memory, attention and information processing – would be acceptable, or even desirable? A lively discussion at ‘The Clever Pill’, in February’s series of events on neuroethics at Wellcome Collection, made me think that there might. What if cognitive-enhancing drugs (let’s call them CEDs) could be used to restore cognitive function in people who have lost some of their mental ability through injury or illness? Arguing against their use on purely ethical grounds, I think, would be difficult. Cries of ‘unfair advantage’ would seem churlish if a drug had the potential to improve a person’s quality of life, particularly if it were compensating for the loss of an ability that they’d originally had. (via Should we pass on the clever pills? « Wellcome Collection blog)

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