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Humility Pills: Building an Ethics of Cognitive Enhancement Open Access

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Should we be concerned that students, workers, and others are turning in seemingly increasing numbers to cognition-enhancing drugs (CEDs) in order to improve their performance? In the institutions in which CED use is most common, cognitive enhancement exists in an ethical gray zone of largely unenforced prohibition: a culture of tacit use. While these institutions have yet to engage seriously with the ethics of cognitive enhancement, a number of important arguments have been raised against CED use. The challenge most in need of a strong response is the Accomplishment Argument, which holds that enhanced work is less dignified, valuable, or authentic, and that cognitive enhancement damages our characters.The Accomplishment Argument often relies on a view of authorship founded on individual credit-taking. But this is not the only possible view: it is just as possible to take impersonal or collaborative view of authorship, which emphasizes credit-sharing, as well as the value of work over the qualities of creators. This view, which has a number of important benefits, is the one that CED users ought to take of their own work; in fact, they may be led to do so by reflecting honestly on the experience of cognitive enhancement. Some proponents of the Accomplishment Argument also claim that enhancement damages the virtue of humility. On the contrary, CED use can and should strengthen our experience of humility.This thesis discusses the benefits of a cultural shift toward open CED use, explains some of the ways in which this shift might work in practice, and details the policy changes that can bring about such a shift.

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