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Enhancement and therapy: is it possible to draw a line?

McKeown, AJ; (2017) Enhancement and therapy: is it possible to draw a line? In: ter Meulen, R and Mohamed, A and Hall, W, (eds.) Rethinking Cognitive Enhancement: A critical appraisal of the neuroscience and ethics of cognitive enhancement. Oxford University Press

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Abstract

Here I analyse the therapy / enhancement distinction as it relates to pharmaceutical cognitive enhancements claimed to improve capacities such as concentration and memory retention. I also consider it in relation to genetic cognitive enhancements, should they become available. I advance three arguments. Firstly, consistent with views found in pro- and anti-enhancement literature, I argue its distinction from therapy is ambiguous and logically unstable. Secondly, despite the threat this appears to pose for determining an ethical allocation of medical resources anchored by ‘normal health’, a simple theoretical solution exists. Thirdly, despite the simplicity of this solution, it cannot be implemented because of the conventional appeal to ‘normality’ as the boundary of appropriate medical practice. Consequently, despite any possible widespread benefits offered by cognitive enhancements, their realisation remains distant. I conclude we should limit expectations about what they can deliver until the assumptions of healthcare and medical education have undergone reorientation.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Enhancement and therapy: is it possible to draw a line?
Keywords: Enhancement, Therapy, Normality, Ethics, Genetics, Cognition
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > UCL Medical School
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1512397
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