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Research into cognitive biases that impair human judgment has mostly been applied to the area of economic decision-making. Ethical decision-making has been comparatively neglected. Since ethical decisions often involve very high individual as well as collective stakes, analyzing how cognitive biases affect them can be expected to yield important results. In this theoretical article, we consider the ethical debate about cognitive enhancement (CE) and suggest a number of cognitive biases that are likely to affect moral intuitions and judgments about CE: status quo bias, loss aversion, risk aversion, omission bias, scope insensitivity, nature bias, and optimistic bias. We find that there are more well-documented biases that are likely to cause irrational aversion to CE than biases in the opposite direction. This suggests that common attitudes about CE are predominantly negatively biased. Within this new perspective, we hope that subsequent research will be able to elaborate this hypothesis and develop effective de-biasing techniques that can help increase the rationality of the public CE debate and thus improve our ethical decision-making.

Original publication

DOI

10.3389/fnsys.2014.00195

Type

Journal article

Journal

Front Syst Neurosci

Publication Date

2014

Volume

8

Keywords

attitudes, brain function augmentation, cognitive bias, cognitive enhancement, de-biasing, moral intuitions, rationality