Currently, the majority of the ethical discussion around the expansive field of brain augmentation centers on the concept of cognitive enhancement, defined by Bostrom and Sandberg (2009) as, “the amplification or extension of core capacities of the mind through improvements or augmentation of internal or external information processing systems.” But if this definition sounds broad and vague, that’s because it is. Part of the difficulty in discussing this field of neuroscience, and the controversy surrounding it, is making quite clear what specifically we are talking about to begin with. As Austin Caras and James DeJesus introduced in Ethical Analysis of Brain Augmentation Through Nanotechnology, methods of brain augmentation, a term which will be used here synonymously with the term cognitive enhancement, are abundant and diverse. The authors suggested that they would use a utilitarian lens to evaluate how nanotechnologies, a particular category of brain augmentations, would impact our society, but I believe they miss the mark here. While they give a compelling summary of the possibilities of this technology, they fail to do more than scratch the surface of the ethical implications surrounding their use. I intend to address one component I believe they have missed here, through my own evaluation and application of utilitarian justice.



Publication Place

Tacoma, Washington


The University of Puget Sound