American Journal of Bioethics.

Not Just “Study Drugs” for the Rich: Stimulants as Moral Tools for Creating Opportunities for Socially Disadvantaged Students

An argument in the cognitive enhancement literature is that using stimulants in populations of healthy but socially disadvantaged individuals mistakenly attributes pathology to nonpathological individuals who experience social inequalities. As the argument goes, using stimulants as cognitive-enhancing drugs to solve the social problem of poorly educated students in inadequate schools misattributes the problem as an individual medical problem, when it is really a collective sociopolitical problem. I challenge this argument on the grounds that not all types of enhancement have to be explained in medical terms, but rather at least one conception of enhancement can be explained in social terms—opportunity maintenance. Therefore, I propose that as a moral requirement we ought to explore whether stimulants could be a means of remedying underprivileged children’s experiences of social inequalities that are borne from inadequate schools for the sake of increasing their chances for opportunities and well-being.

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Volume 16, Issue 6
June 2016