The Ethics of Intelligence-Enhancing Drugs

Michael Gazzaniga looks at the ethical implications of drugs that can enhance intelligence. (Via Sci Tech Daily)

[G]nawing concerns persist when it comes to artificially enhancing intelligence. Geneticists and neuroscientists have made great strides in understanding which genes, brain structures and neurochemicals might be altered artificially to increase intelligence. The fear this prospect brings is that a nation of achievers will discard hard work and turn to prescriptions to get ahead.

Enhancing intelligence is not science fiction. Many “smart” drugs are in clinical trials and could be on the market in less than five years. Some medications currently available to patients with memory disorders may also increase intelligence in the healthy population. . .

Why do we resist changes in our cognitive skills through drugs?

The reason, it seems to me, is that we think cognitive enhancement is cheating. If, somehow, someone gets ahead through hard work, that’s okay. But popping a pill and mastering information after having read it only once seems unfair.

This position makes no sense.