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Morality Pills and Behavior Modification for the Greater Good

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Reprinted from Off Guardian

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The New Normal: "Covert Moral Enhancement" for "coronavirus defectors"

Academic article suggests putting psycho-active drugs in the water supply to make people "co-operative"

Four days ago the Conversation - an "independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community" - published an article headlined:

'Morality pills' may be the US's best shot at ending the coronavirus pandemic, according to one ethicist

The article's author is Parker Crutchfield, an Associate Professor of Medical Ethics, Humanities and Law at Western Michigan University, and his argument can be broken down into four key points:

  1. Wearing masks and social distancing are good for public health
  2. People who refuse to follow these rules are "defectors" who need to be "morally enhanced"
  3. This moral enhancement can be achieved with medication to make people more "empathetic" and "co-operative"
  4. This medication should be compulsory and/or administered secretly via the water supply.

I swear I'm not exaggerating. Not even a little bit. To absorb the full horror I suggest you read it for yourself (and then read the comment section as well, it will make you feel better) but, if you're not so inclined, here are some choice quotes:

like receiving a vaccine to beef up your immune system, people could take a substance to boost their cooperative, pro-social behavior.

Moral enhancement is the use of substances to make you more moral. The psychoactive substances act on your ability to reason about what the right thing to do is, or your ability to be empathetic or altruistic or cooperative.

These substances interact directly with the psychological underpinnings of moral behavior ["] Then, perhaps, the people who choose to go maskless or flout social distancing guidelines would better understand that everyone, including them, is better off when they contribute, and rationalize that the best thing to do is cooperate.

Another challenge is that the defectors who need moral enhancement are also the least likely to sign up for it ["] a solution would be to make moral enhancement compulsory or administer it secretly, perhaps via the water supply.

This isn't just a panicked response to an unforeseen emergency, Crutchfield's area of bioethics research focuses on "questions like how to induce those who are noncooperative to get on board with doing what's best for the public good", and a look through his articles reveals that this is an agenda which pre-dates our current "pandemic".

There's The epistemology of moral bioenhancement from 2016 and then Compulsory moral bioenhancement should be covert from just last year.

This isn't just about masks, if it were implemented it would be a lot more far-reaching. From masks to vaccines to anything else, beyond even the "pandemic". The author admits as much himself [our emphasis]:

But a strategy like this one could be a way out of this pandemic, a future outbreak or the suffering associated with climate change.

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[Republished from Off-Guardian] 

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he's forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.


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