Moral Enhancement Where It Would Make the Most Difference

/ 07 May 2021 | AJOB Neuroscience / By Tamara Kayali Browne /

Detailed frameworks for virtue theories of moral enhancement are all well and good but if, as Fabiano (2021) contends, we may need moral enhancement to deal with risks such as nuclear proliferation, climate change and pandemics, then splitting hairs over which good traits to enhance and to what extent may not be the best use of our time. If malevolent leaders, dictators, greedy business people and enabling politicians have taught us anything, it is that we are probably better off focusing on reducing problematic traits that we know cause the most suffering to others. For example, individuals with psychopathy and Cluster B Personality Disorders (antisocial, borderline, histrionic and narcissistic personality disorders) not only cause a great deal of pain to those around them due to their lack of empathy, but also due to their ability to manipulate others (Kraus and Reynolds 2001). Psychopaths, for example, make up a disproportionate number of individuals in the criminal justice system, are much more likely to be in prison for violent crimes, to continue reoffending, and to resist most treatment (Kiehl and Hoffman 2011). It has also been found that psychopaths make up a significant proportion of corporate leaders (Australian Psychological Society 2016) and narcissists make up a significant number of world leaders (Rosenthal and Pittinsky 2006).

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