Manipulating morals: scientists target drugs that improve behaviour

Posted: May 30, 2011 in Medicine
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

From the article:

A pill to enhance moral behaviour, a treatment for racist thoughts, a therapy to increase your empathy for people in other countries – these may sound like the stuff of science fiction but with medicine getting closer to altering our moral state, society should be preparing for the consequences, according to a book that reviews scientific developments in the field.

Drugs such as Prozac that alter a patient’s mental state already have an impact on moral behaviour, but scientists predict that future medical advances may allow much more sophisticated manipulations.

The field is in its infancy, but “it’s very far from being science fiction”, said Dr Guy Kahane, deputy director of the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics and a Wellcome Trust biomedical ethics award winner.

“Science has ignored the question of moral improvement so far, but it is now becoming a big debate,” he said. “There is already a growing body of research you can describe in these terms. Studies show that certain drugs affect the ways people respond to moral dilemmas by increasing their sense of empathy, group affiliation and by reducing aggression.”

Researchers have become very interested in developing biomedical technologies capable of intervening in the biological processes that affect moral behaviour and moral thinking, according to Dr Tom Douglas, a Wellcome Trust research fellow at Oxford University’s Uehiro Centre. “It is a very hot area of scientific study right now.”

He is co-author of Enhancing Human Capacities, published on Monday, which includes a chapter on moral enhancement.

Drugs that affect our moral thinking and behaviour already exist, but we tend not to think of them in that way. [Prozac] lowers aggression and bitterness against environment and so could be said to make people more agreeable. Or Oxytocin, the so-called love hormone … increases feelings of social bonding and empathy while reducing anxiety,” he said.

“Scientists will develop more of these drugs and create new ways of taking drugs we already know about. We can already, for example, take prescribed doses of Oxytocin as a nasal spray,” he said.

Is it just me or does this feel like a really bad idea, this feels way to much like prozium to me and nothing should feel or sound like prozium.

There is a million ways this could be used to force people, that don’t fit the framework of what is considered “normal” by the establishment, people that might become the new Albert Einstein or Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart if left alone to do what they want.

Original site.

WOG out.

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