Enhancement and the Religious Dialogue with
Most people are neurologically
incapable of living up to their own moral
aspirations. In response to our moral inadequacies
religious traditions have developed technologies
such as fasting, meditation, special clothing and
psychoactive drugs to improve moral cognition and
behavior. Today psychopharmacological, social
neuroscience and behavioral research are
illuminating moral cognition, and generating new
electronic, psychopharmaceutical, and genetic
technologies for moral self-improvement.
As these technologies of moral
enhancement become more common in therapy and
criminal rehabilitation they will also be
selectively adopted and rejected by religious
traditions. Some religious will reject the new moral
enhancement technologies on the grounds that, like
the transhumanist aspirations for longevity,
cognitive enhancement and uploading, they are a
distraction from spiritual means and ends. Other
technologies, such as treatments for addictions,
will likely be widely embraced by the religious.
A dialogue between religious and
transhumanists about these projects will help the
religious parse which technologies are acceptable.
But a religious-transhumanist moral enhancement
dialogue will also help the transhumanist movement
confront its dangerous lack of distinction between
static forms of enhancement, such as hedonic "wireheading,"
and forms of enhancement that enhance virtues,
explore spiritual experience, and support