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Rethinking Cognitive Enhancement$
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Ruud ter Meulen, Ahmed Mohammed, and Wayne Hall

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198727392

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198727392.001.0001

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Exaggerating the benefits and downplaying the risks in the bioethical debate on cognitive neuroenhancement

Exaggerating the benefits and downplaying the risks in the bioethical debate on cognitive neuroenhancement

Chapter:
(p.69) Chapter 5 Exaggerating the benefits and downplaying the risks in the bioethical debate on cognitive neuroenhancement
Source:
Rethinking Cognitive Enhancement
Author(s):

Andreas Heinz

Sabine Müller

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198727392.003.0005

Proponents of cognitive neuroenhancement usually ground their argumentation on the assumption that effective neuroenhancers without serious risks and side effects exist or will exist soon. Their argumentation is based on several false assumptions: (1) underestimating the risk of addiction to cognitive enhancers, (2) underestimating psychiatric, cardiovascular, and further medical risks of the drugs currently proposed for cognitive enhancement (e.g., modafinil, methylphenidate), and (3) overestimating the benefits of cognitive enhancers. Although only randomized, double-blind studies could answer the question whether cognitive enhancers are associated with a risk for mental disorders, there are severe ethical objections to such research, particularly because research participants would have to be exposed to significant risks. Therefore, public funding of this research is not justified. However, epidemiological studies on the use of prescription psychotropic drugs for cognitive enhancement might be useful in order to find out more about their effects in real life.

Keywords:   cognitive enhancement, neuroenhancement, addiction, epidemiological studies, psychotropic drugs, modafinil, methylphenidate

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