Brave New World Covid Pharmacopeia

(Covid-19 Morality Pills)

The professor actually notes that not all states mandate, nor enforce, social distancing and masks, but people should voluntarily obey those rules nonetheless. Many are too selfish and greedy to commit themselves to the common good, and shows a photo of such a group sporting Trump/Pence shirts.  Clicking Webb’s Tweet to make it stand-alone allows one to see some eye-blinking replies.

‘Morality pills’ may be the US’s best shot at ending the coronavirus pandemic, according to one ethicist’, Parker Crutchfield, [Medical Ethics, Humanities, and Law, Western Michigan University School of Medicine], August 10, 2020, theconversation.com

My research in bioethics focuses on questions like how to induce those who are noncooperative to get on board with doing what’s best for the public good. To me, it seems the problem of coronavirus defectors could be solved by moral enhancement: like receiving a vaccine to beef up your immune system, people could take a substance to boost their cooperative, pro-social behavior. Could a psychoactive pill be the solution to the pandemic?”  […]

Promoting cooperation with moral enhancement

Moral enhancement is the use of substances to make you more moral. The psychoactive substances act on your ability to reason about what the right thing to do is, or your ability to be empathetic or altruistic or cooperative.

For example, oxytocin, the chemical that, among other things, can induce labor or increase the bond between mother and child*, may cause a person to be more empathetic and altruistic, more giving and generous. The same goes for psilocybin, the active component of “magic mushrooms.” These substances have been shown to lower aggressive behavior in those with antisocial personality disorder and to improve the ability of sociopaths to recognize emotion in others.” […]

But he offers us ‘a choice’:

Moral enhancement as an alternative to vaccines

“Another challenge is that the defectors who need moral enhancement are also the least likely to sign up for it. As some have argued, a solution would be to make moral enhancement compulsory or administer it secretly, perhaps via the water supply. [< written by the professor of bio-ethics himself in Aug., 2018]  These actions require weighing other values. Does the good of covertly dosing the public with a drug that would change people’s behavior outweigh individuals’ autonomy to choose whether to participate? Does the good associated with wearing a mask outweigh an individual’s autonomy to not wear one?”

The scenario in which the government forces an immunity booster upon everyone is plausible. And the military has been forcing enhancements like vaccines or “uppers” upon soldiers for a long time. The scenario in which the government forces a morality booster upon everyone is far-fetched. But a strategy like this one could be a way out of this pandemic, a future outbreak or the suffering associated with climate change. That’s why we should be thinking of it now.”

(cross-posted at caucus99percent.com)

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