From the necessity of being human to the possibility of pursuing a good life: cognitive enhancement and the emergence of personhood
Throughout human history, cognition enhancement has not only been a constant, but also imperative for our species evolution and well-being. However, philosophical assumptions that enhancing cognition by biomedical means goes against some immutable human nature, combined with the lack of conclusive data about its use on healthy individuals and long-term effects, can sometimes result in prohibitive approaches. In this context, the authors seek to demonstrate that cognition enhancement, whether by “natural” or biotechnological means, is essential to the emergence of personhood, and to existence of an autonomous life that is guided by a person’s own conception of the good. In order to do so, the main possibilities of enhancing cognition through biotechnologies, along with its benefits and potentialities, as well as its risks and limitations, will be presented. Following Savulescu and Sandberg’s account on cognitive enhancement, it will be argued that it constitutes both a consumption good, being desirable and happiness-promoting to have well-functioning cognition, and a capital good that reduces risks, increases earning capacity, and forms a key part of human capital. Finally, having in mind that progress in the field of biotechnology aimed at cognition enhancement may improve a person’s (and society’s) well-being, the authors will argue that further research in the field is necessary, especially studies that takes into consideration dimensions such as dose, individual characteristics and task characteristics.
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