Cognitive enhancement — augmenting normal cognitive capacities — is not new. Literacy, numeracy, computers, and the practices of science are all cognitive enhancements. Science is now making new cognitive enhancements possible. Biomedical cognitive enhancements (BCEs) include the administration of drugs, implants of genetically engineered or stem-cell grown neural tissue, transcranial magnetic stimulation, computer/brain interface technologies, and (perhaps someday) modification of human embryos by genetic engineering and/or synthetic biology techniques. The same liberal—democratic values that support education as a public institutional endeavor also supply reasons for institutionalizing and publicly supporting BCE. Pursuing the goals of education may require changing what we have hitherto regarded as the individual's ‘natural’ potential, even in the case of normal individuals, and this may require recourse to BCE. The prospect of BCE raises no novel issues of distributive justice. Like other beneficial innovations, BCEs have the potential to worsen existing unjust inequalities, but they also have the potential to ameliorate them.
- biomedical cognitive enhancement
- evolutionary theory
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