Dr. Guy Kahane, deputy director of the Oxford Centre for neuro-ethics, was recently quoted saying, “Studies show that certain drugs affect the ways people respond to moral dilemmas by increasing their sense of empathy, group affiliation and by reducing aggression.” He was speaking about a growing movement of which he is a pioneer working to enhance human capacities. One of the goals that they are working on is to create medication that would lower aggression, increase empathy, social bonding, and agreeableness. These pills could even increase empathy for people outside of ones nationality or culture and help to erase xenophobia, or the fear of foreigners and their culture or politics.
This sounds vaguely reminiscent of the Ludovico Technique, a form of fictional drug enabled aversion therapy in A Clockwork Orange, that increased empathy and non-violent behavior. Like the method used in the iconic film, these medications are being called “morality enhancers.”
One of the chief uses of this treatment would be for prisoners. The research seems to suggest that medication like this is more useful in behavioral reform than prison. The research on compulsive re-enacting and trauma suggests that behavioral medication might be less risky than subjecting people to prison life. Assuming people will come out of incarceration less violent than upon entry has not been statistically accurate. The literature that has been published is not limiting the use of this type of treatment to the prison population, advocates suggest use with the general populace.
In theory, taking medication that could help to achieve some semblance of world peace sounds like a shortcut to utopia, but it could also be a possible pandora’s box. Not enough information exists about the benefits and repercussions of this type of psychopharmacology to make an informed decision condemning or supporting them, yet. I am interested to see what direction science will take us.
I am certain that various ethical watchdog communities will cry afoul about allowing falsely constructed empathy, morality, and goodness to lead us into a new age. Conversely, I would ask them why we as a global community have allowed falsely constructed aggression, hatred, bigotry, and prejudice to lead us backward into a darker age.
|Do you think this could help mankind? Or was Anthony Burgess dead on when he wrote A Clockwork Orange?|