Exploring moral bio-enhancement through psilocybin facilitated prosocial effects

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The idea of moral bio-enhancement has received considerable philosophical attention in the last 10 years. Yet, it has been extremely difficult to come up with plausible and feasible procedures for how to perform such enhancement. The purpose of this paper is to explore whether the psychedelic compound psilocybin, due to its prosocial effects, can be used for moral bio-enhancement. The first part of the paper is conceptual. This part investigates the term ‘prosociality’, relates it to philosophical discussions of moral bio-enhancement, and presents a set of necessary conditions for when increases in prosociality can count as moral enhancement. The second part of the paper reviews the empirical literature on the prosocial effects of psilocybin. This part proposes that the prosocial effects of psilocybin likely satisfy the above-mentioned set of six necessary conditions. The paper hereby suggests that we have reason to be tentatively and moderately optimistic about using psilocybin for moral bio-enhancement and that this use of psilocybin is worth future research attention. Nonetheless, the paper ends by stressing that both further philosophical and empirical research is crucial for making stronger conclusions on this matter. The last section of the paper suggests a set of important research questions that should be targeted in such future research.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal for Cognition and Neuroethics
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)23–64
Publication statusPublished - 2021

ID: 278299563