Examining reports and policies on cognitive enhancement: approaches, rationale, and recommendations

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Outram, Simon M and Racine, Eric (2011) Examining reports and policies on cognitive enhancement: approaches, rationale, and recommendations. Accountability in Research : Policies and Quality Assurance , 18 (5). pp. 323-341. ISSN 0898-9621 (print), 1545-5815 (online)


The phenomenon of cognitive enhancement is attracting attention in bioethics literature and beyond, in public policy. In response, three bodies—the British Medical Association (BMA); the Commission de l’éthique de la Science et de la technologie (CEST) du Québec; the American Academy of Neurology (AAN)—have produced reports and guidance on this topic. To gain insights into different public policy approaches, rationales, and recommendations on the topic, we analyzed these reports in depth. We found convergence on the definition (with the exception of the CEST) of cognitive enhancement. However, we noted a lack of critical reflection with respect to the underly- ing rationale for developing these reports, i.e., that cognitive enhancement practices are rampant and represent major social changes. As it currently stands, cognitive enhance- ment is constituted in a way that challenges the creation of coherent and effective policy recommendations. However, policy makers should not simply wait for definitional con- sensus and hope that on balance the benefits turn out to be greater than the risks. Some components of cognitive enhancement could be reduced down to clearly identified policy targets to be further examined. Then, if appropriate, policy should be created that is, amongst other criteria, beneficial to the majority of the population.

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Item type Article
URI https://vuir.vu.edu.au/id/eprint/23867
DOI 10.1080/08989621.2011.606734
Official URL http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/0898962...
Subjects Historical > FOR Classification > 1605 Policy and Administration
Historical > FOR Classification > 1702 Cognitive Science
Historical > FOR Classification > 2201 Applied Ethics
Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living (ISEAL)
Keywords biomedical enhancement, enhancement technologies, cognitive enhancement, cognition, health policy, government policies, psychotropic drugs, neuroethics, neuropsychology, bioethics
Citations in Scopus 15 - View on Scopus
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