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Diminished capacity is routinely seen as diminishing moral responsibility (as in the case of immaturity, senility, or particular mental impairments). The prospect of enhanced capacity, therefore, poses immediate questions with regard to moral responsibility. Of particular interest are those capacities that might allow us to better avoid serious harms or wrongdoing. Questions of responsibility with regard to enhancement can be considered at various removes. In the first instance: where such (safe and effective) interventions exist, is there an obligation to undergo such enhancement? Secondly: once enhanced, would the ambit of our responsibility therefore increase? Some philosophers have argued that enhanced capacities potentially generate “hyperresponsibility.” Hyperresponsible people would be held to a different and higher moral standard than those of us with more ordinary human capacities and are liable to be more blameworthy for wrongdoing than ordinary agents. This chapter discusses the implications of enhancement for three central views of responsibility, namely: capacity-based, control-based, and revelation-based views. Debates around moral responsibility have primarily concerned diminished capacities; as such the prospect of enhancement introduces new terrain - and potentially new fault lines and complexities - in which to interrogate our theoretical conceptions of the foundations (and limits) of moral responsibility.

Original publication





Book title

The Routledge Handbook of the Ethics of Human Enhancement

Publication Date



374 - 388