Drugs for Optimising Morality

This month’s British Journal of Psychiatry has an interesting essay on ‘moral pharmacology’. Mind Hacks picks up the story:

[Sean Spence] argues that while most attention has been focused on ‘smart drugs’ and cognitive enhancement, medication is already being subtly used to improve ethical behaviour and we should prepare for a revolution in ‘moral pharmacology’.


Recent considerations of the ethics of cognitive enhancement have specifically excluded consideration of social cognitions (such as empathy, revenge or deception), on the grounds that they are less amenable to quantification. Nevertheless, it would be regrettable if this limitation entirely precluded consideration of what must be an important question for humanity: can pharmacology help us enhance human morality? Might drugs not only make us smarter but also assist us in becoming more ‘humane’?