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St Cross Seminar: Cognitive Enhancement: Defending the Parity Principle

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Duration: 0:47:07 | Added: 17 Mar 2016
In this episode, Professor Neil Levy assesses objections to cognitive enhancement and argues that the means don't matter from a moral perspective: what matters is how the intervention affects cognition.

According to the parity principle, the means whereby an agent intervenes in his or her mind, or the minds of others, is irrelevant when it comes to assessing the moral status of the intervention: what matters is how the intervention affects the agent. In this paper, I set out the case for the parity principle, before defending it from recent objections due to Christoph Bublitz and Reinhard Merkel. Bublitz and Merkel argue that direct interventions bypass agents’ psychological capacities and therefore produce states over which agents have less control and which are less reflective of who they genuinely are. I argue that direct interventions that are processed psychologically may be no less destructive of control or of the degree to which the resulting states are reflective of the agent, and, further, that direct interventions may be morally unproblematic. Given that right now and for the foreseeable future indirect interventions threaten our autonomy far more often and far more deeply than direct, the distinction between direct and indirect interventions doesn’t even provide a useful heuristic for assessing when an intervention into the mind/brain is problematic.

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