Moral Bioenhancement: An Ethico-Legal Exploration of the Motivational Role of Money, Health, and Duty

  • Sarah Carter

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis provides a detailed analysis of the feasibility of voluntary moral bioenhancement through an ethico-legal exploration of three motivators: money (and financial incentives in general), health, and duty. These motivators are explored in turn over the course of three papers and it is concluded that while none offer a motivator that could encourage broad participation in voluntary programmes of moral bioenhancement, they do provide insight into things that will be important to note in advance of the advent of such an intervention and (especially) of attempts to promote it. In addition, this thesis identifies and explores areas of discussion not previously addressed in the literature, including issues such as: taboo trade-offs in the use of financial incentives to promote participation in programmes of moral bioenhancement, the use of medical definitions in order to classify moral bioenhancement interventions as medically indicated, and the question as to whether there could be a duty to undergo moral bioenhancement interventions.Moral bioenhancement, though currently a hypothetical notion, is considered by many to be a desirable endeavour due to its potential to bring about good consequences and to avoid instances of significant and even ultimate harm. However, unlike other enhancements, moral bioenhancement is something that does not seem to directly benefit the enhanced individual and so there are concerns that people would be disinclined to undergo the intervention. Some writers have proposed that this therefore demonstrates a need for compulsory approaches to the endeavour, but in the introductory chapters of this thesis I demonstrate that such an approach would be ethically and legally problematic and, therefore, a voluntary approach would be required. If moral bioenhancement is considered as something that is good to have (and it seems that such a case can be made, certainly on a societal level), then a method of encouraging participation in programmes of the endeavour will be required. This thesis aims to identify that method by exploring the three possible motivators already mentioned and, in doing so, to analyse the feasibility of voluntary moral bioenhancement in a broader sense.
Date of Award1 Aug 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorRuth Chadwick (Supervisor) & Alexandra Mullock (Supervisor)


  • Moral Enhancement

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