• Persson and Savulescu (2008) argue that cognitive enhancement and moral enhancement have separate aims. They argue that cognitive enhancement without moral enhancement is dangerous.

  • John Harris (2011) argues that progress in Cognitive enhancement should not stop because progression in moral enhancement requires technological advancement.

  • Carter and Gordon (2015) argue that cognitive and moral enhancement are more interconnected and not as independent as Savulescu and Persson claim in their 2008 paper.

The question is whether one should define cognitive and moral enhancement separately? If not, is it justifiable to recategorize it as Cognitive-Moral Bio-enhancement?

One argument to support this latter view is that it agrees with both Persson and Savulescu (2008) and Carter and Gordon’s (2015) line of argument and also resolves Harris’ objection.


Carter JA and Gordon EC. (2015) On Cognitive and Moral Enhancement: A Reply to Savulescu and Persson. Bioethics 29: 153-161.

Harris J. (2011) MORAL ENHANCEMENT AND FREEDOM. Bioethics 25: 102-111.

Persson I and Savulescu J. (2008) The Perils of Cognitive Enhancement and the Urgent Imperative to Enhance the Moral Character of Humanity. Journal of Applied Philosophy 25: 162-177.

  • 2
    I have no answer, but the question chills my blood. Is there a known example of this 'moral enhancement' or is this going to be one of the benefits of 5G?
    – user20253
    Mar 31 '19 at 14:06
  • 1
    What has all this got to do with 'moral enhancement'. None of these dangerous drugs have any effect on a person's moral sensibilities. It's like saying a rope is a moral enhancement because we can use it to tie up burglars. The whole idea seems wild.
    – user20253
    Apr 1 '19 at 12:54
  • 2
    I see no need for details.
    – user20253
    Apr 2 '19 at 10:52
  • 1
    Could you add the specific definitions of the terms cognitive, moral, and enhancement? The current two answers use differing definitions. Also, im case the definition takes morals and cognition as completely unrelated concepts (unrelated as, say, morals and physical capability) do you think we had a moral enhancement of the order of our technological progress from the stone age onwards? if so, which form did it take?
    – bukwyrm
    Apr 3 '19 at 6:29
  • 1
    @Bread - You're right to pick me up on this. My remark was misjudged. I forgot this madness is now global.
    – user20253
    Apr 3 '19 at 11:22

Cognition is the acquisition and understanding of knowledge and morality is the interpretation of good and bad. Morality can be thought of as a type of cognition in that you acquire and interpret knowledge to make categorical judgments of good and bad. This type of cognition is just reliant on the experiences of suffering and pleasure. If you want to specify the type of cognition than yes "cognitive-moral bio-enhancement" works. Cognitive enhancement should be thought of as a generalization referring to the advancement of all types of cognition.

Wikipedia Cognition


The question is extremely badly worded

The question is whether one should define cognitive and moral enhancement separately? If not, is it justifiable to recategorize it meaning as Cognitive-Moral Bio-enhancement?

Presumably 'it' refers to what we see as cognitive or moral enhancement?

I see absolutely no reason to suppose that those that "hack" their brains as morally better persons, be that for altruistic (better science) or more personal reasons (pleasure). I mean, seriously, how insane do you have to be to even imagine that a piece of computer in your brain makes you an intrinsically better person, rather than of higher status?

So surely the answer is trivial. They should be defined as separate.

I suppose the lesson is that people can't escape their motivations as easily as they (we?) would want.

You also seem to have (in the question title) misunderstood 'category' to mean 'all there can be', which is kinda sad (there are separate, different, categories to anything we are asking about, else it is just a sort of substance). I guess people like talking to themselves.

  • given what we know about rats and pleasure, one may ask whether "cognitive-moral enhancement" is actually making us less insightful / creative / intelligent, rather than just enhancing our memory for things
    – user38026
    Apr 2 '19 at 23:25
  • Thank you for rephrasing my question. I really appreciate that.
    – mmmonowar
    Apr 4 '19 at 10:16

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