Is Freedom Compatible with Moral Neuroenhancement?

Alexandru Gabriel Cioiu


New discoveries in the fields of genetics and neurobiology from the last decades have offered scientists more understanding regarding the way in which our biology can influence our behavior and have made more appealing the idea of moral neuroenhancement (or bioenhancement), but one of the main objections to this way of enhancing moral motivation is a hypothetical threat to freedom. Critics argue that our freedom would be in jeopardy if we allowed interventions at our genetical level to predispose us to a certain kind of behaviour, even if that behaviour would be moral. My paper wishes to explore the relation between freedom and moral neuroenhancement in order to see if there really is an incompatibility between these 2 concepts and if freedom is indeed undermined by moral neuroenhancement. I will argue for the idea that not only does moral neuroenhancement not imperil our freedom, but that freedom itself could be enhanced with the aid of biomedical techniques, so that the enhanced individual could have more options at his disposal and make better use of his freedom. If moral neuroenhancement can lead to a moral life by improving moral character and predisposing the individual towards being more virtuous, while also improving our freedom and autonomy, then we have strong reasons to enhance our moral behaviour with the aid of neurotechnology. In this paper I will try argue for the idea that this is the case and that the bioconservative objection against moral neuroenhancement regarding the fact that it might undermine our freedom is vastly exaggerated and unjustified.


moral neuroenhancement; freedom; moral bioenhancement; oxytocin; serotonin; tCDS; lithium; Omega-3; freedom to fall; mental freedom; empathy; moral responsibility; moral sensitivity; moral motivation; counter-moral emotions; racial bias; aggression

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