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August 22, 2003
Diversity of the Mental Environment
By Wrye Sententia
Environmental diversity is a widely discussed requirement for maintaining and fostering a healthy ecosystem. In the same way, mental diversity ensures creativity and flourishing open social systems by encouraging a multiplicity of approaches to thinking about, and solving, problems.
Today, new drugs and other technologies developed for augmenting, monitoring, and manipulating cognition require social policies that will promote, rather than restrict, free thinking. Applications of these technologies can benefit from clear principles that ensure cognitive liberty.
Here are three core considerations:
- Privacy: What and how you think should be private unless you choose to share it. The use of technologies such as brain imaging and scanning must remain consensual and any information so revealed should remain confidential. The right to privacy must be found to encompass the inner domain of thought.
- Autonomy: Self-determination over ones own cognition is central to free will. School boards, for example, should not be permitted to condition a childs right to public education on taking a psychoactive drug such as Ritalin. Decisions concerning whether or how to change a persons thought processes must remain the province of the individual as opposed to government or industry.
- Choice: The capabilities of the human mind should not be limited. So long as people do not directly harm others, governments should not criminally prohibit cognitive enhancement or the occasioning of any mental state.
| Category: Neuroethics
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