Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Morality Pill

In a recent issue of the Globe and Mail Guy Kahane, who is deputy director of the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, wrote an opinion piece titled  Would We Swallow A Morality Pill, in which he posed the following question: Should we use our growing scientific understanding of the basis of human morality to try to make people morally better?

Here's an excerpt:
It would be ideal if individuals could freely explore different ways to improve themselves, whether by practising mindfulness, reading moral philosophy or, yes, by taking a “morality” pill. But it’s also true that, although some people are eager to take pills that make them feel better, it’s not so obvious that people would want to take pills that would make them morally better. It’s not clear people really want to be morally better. And those who, like the psychopathic Alex [of A Clockwork Orange], need the most help are probably those who would want it least.
Well worth a look, and then consideration, less so for the idea that an actual "morality pill" might be invented than for the question that Kahane leaves the reader with:

"Will we want to take them if they ever become available? And what does it say about us if we won't."

Paul Kimball

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