Policymaking for human enhancement technologies requires forward thinking about the likely and possible responses of the law and other regulatory tools. It also requires analysis of the limits (if there are any) that should be imposed on technological development and use.
Reaching conclusions about appropriate regulation requires collaboration between lawyers, philosophers and scientists, alongside the lawmakers and regulatory agencies crafting and enacting policy. However, academic disciplines take very different approaches and often pursue different questions. Whilst legal scholarship can provide answers about what the law does or would say, for policymaking for human technologies it must also confront the question of what the laws should be. Whilst scientists provide factual descriptions of the nature of mechanisms and effects of technologies, they less often make value judgments regarding the desirability or permissibility of the use of these technologies by individuals in society. Whilst philosophers make and defend normative claims regarding the value and permissibility of types of technologies, they often work at a theoretical level to some extent abstracted from the realities of the legal (and sometimes the scientific) constraints and possibilities.
In this paper, I examine how these methodological differences should be reconciled, especially when the goal is to make concrete recommendations for policy. In particular, I consider (potential) professional duties to use cognitive enhancers, and student use of cognitive enhancers in universities. I argue that, where researchers want to do work that is useful for policymaking for human enhancement technologies, their collaborative research questions should be more modest in scope. However, far from limiting the impact of such research, I will suggest that this route is both more promising and ambitious.
Dr Hannah Maslen is the Deputy Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. Her background is in philosophy, psychology and law. Hannah works on a wide range of areas in practical ethics, from neuroethics to philosophy of punishment.
You can find more information about her research here
© 2012 Journal of Law, Information & Science and Faculty of Law, University of Tasmania.