Erving Goffman Stigma

6568 Words Apr 18th, 2012 27 Pages
Goodman • CoGnitive enhanCement, CheatinG, and aCComplishment

Rob Goodman

Cognitive Enhancement, Cheating, and Accomplishment

ABSTRACT. An ethics of enhancement should not rest on blanket judgments; it should ask us to distinguish between the kinds of activities we want to enhance. Both students and academics have turned to cognition-enhancing drugs in significant numbers—but is their enhancement a form of cheating? The answer should hinge on whether the activity subject to enhancement is zero-sum or non-zero-sum, and whether one is more concerned with excellence in process or excellence in outcome. Cognitive enhancement should be especially tolerated when the activities at stake are non-zero-sum and when the importance of process
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I argue that the use of CEDs is especially beneficial, and should be especially tolerated, when the activities at stake are non-zero-sum and when the importance of process is outweighed by the importance of outcome. Finally, I criticize the claim that CEDs unnaturally cheapen human accomplishments; instead, I consider their use to be in line with well-established conceptions of collaborative authorship, which shift the locus of praise and blame from individual creators to the ultimate products of their efforts.
CHARACTERISTICS AND USE OF COgNITION-ENHANCINg DRUgS

Among the most common CEDs are modafinil, methylphenidate, and dextroamphetamine, which are available under the brand names Provigil, [ 146 ]

Goodman • CoGnitive enhanCement, CheatinG, and aCComplishment

Ritalin, and Adderall, respectively. Although originally developed to treat diagnosed conditions ranging from narcolepsy to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, their off-label use has been reported to increase users’ recall, attention span, and ability to focus on cognitive tasks; in addition, modafinil has been shown to increase wakefulness (Butcher 2003; greely et al. 2008). Some CEDs also seem to enhance users’ “executive function,” or problem-solving ability (Mehlman 2004, p. 484). Beyond the currently available drugs, research into Alzheimer’s disease and other causes of cognitive decline in the elderly is likely to contribute, intentionally or not, to the further
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