The new year is a boom time for the self-help industry. Books on how to improve everything from your brain power to your sex life rush off the shelves amid a surge of subscriptions to gyms and language classes.
But is there a limit to how far we should improve ourselves? And are there ethical implications about the manner in which it is done?
This has become a hot topic in philosophy, with particular concerns raised about the increased use of pharmaceuticals for human enhancement. It is not only “smart drugs” that are coming on stream; people’s behaviour could be changed by, for instance, boosting levels of empathy.
While some believe this is dangerously close to “playing God”, others welcome the development. Among them are philosophers Julian Savulescu and Ingmar Persson, whose argument in a recently published book, Unfit for the Future, provides today’s idea:
Artificial moral enhancement is now essential if humanity is to avoid catastrophe.
We discuss this, and the broader question of self-improvement, with Prof Bert Gordjin, director of the Institute of Ethics at DCU.
(continues…. with audio link, at:)