Science often progresses at rates faster than it can be regulated. Much research has been done in recent years surrounding nanotechnology, mechanisms comprised of various particles between 1 and 100 nm in size that are capable of altering organic and non-organic molecules and atoms. The ethical implications of using such technology have been strongly debated among researchers and ethicists alike, particularly concerning the issue of human brain augmentation. While the definition of what constitutes brain augmentation can vary greatly, for the purposes of this essay, brain augmentation will be defined as the process by which an individual’s higher and lower order brain function are enhanced beyond their natural capabilities with invasive forms of intervention. Individuals that have no external alterations in the neural development cycle including neurogenesis, cell migration, cell differentiation, cell maturation, synaptogenesis, cell death and synaptic pruning, and myelogenesis, have “natural” brain function. Using the ethical theory of principlism and addressing the points offered in Caras and De Jesus’ paper Ethical Analysis of Brain Augmentation and Nanotechnology, this paper will argue that the use of nanotechnology for the purposes of brain augmentation are not morally permissible for they violate the principles of autonomy, non-maleficence, and justice.



Publication Place

Tacoma, Washington


The University of Puget Sound