Neuroethics Publications

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Journal Article

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"We are accustomed to anabolic athletes, medicated musicians and souped-up students. Now it appears that we can add pill-popping professors to this list (Sahakian and Morein-Zamir 2007). “Cosmetic neurology” is the term I used to describe the practice of using neurologic interventions to improve movement, mood, and mentation in healthy individuals. The specific kinds of enhancements that might be possible and the ethical concerns (safety, distributive justice, coercion, and the erosion of character) they raise are detailed elsewhere (Chatterjee 2004, 2006). Despite ethical concerns, I have argued that the practice of cosmetic neurology is likely to become widespread (Chatterjee 2007). This point is predictive, not prescriptive. It means, though, that it is likely less useful to discuss whether this practice should occur than to consider what form this practice should take. Sorting this out will prove to be quite difficult itself, because translating principle into practice runs up against the problem of conflicting reference frames that can alter one’s view of the practice. These multiple reference frames determine what it means to be a good person or to construct a good society. I hope to illustrate the problem of conflicting reference frames by examining a special case, before returning to the issue that triggered this commentary— that of pill-popping professors...."


Chatterjee, A. (2008). Framing Pains, Pills, and Professors. Expositions 2(2), 139-146.

© Equinox Publishing Ltd. 2008



Date Posted: 02 March 2012