…and now I’m awake again, and already wondering what kind of work has been done on this sort of thing.
What kinds of altering one’s consciousness do we have moral permission for? Would a neurotypical person have the moral right to use memory-enhancing drugs? Would a person with a mental illness have the moral right to use ‘corrective’ (antipsychotic, antidepressive, etc.) drugs? For that matter, would a person with a mental illness have some duty to use corrective drugs? Is there a right and/or duty to use psychedelics? What about the moral right to use memory-suppressing drugs following a traumatic experience? Does it matter whether one hacks his own brain for the purpose of entertainment rather than success or service to humanity? Does it matter whether one alters or extends one’s cognitive functions by nanotechnology, chemical supplements, or simply reading thought-provoking books?
If I were to get into philosophy on my own, I think this would be an area of interest. I’ll have to come up with a suitably outrageous scenario to illustrate the topic, of course. Perhaps a society of music lovers has kidnapped a great violinist and wishes to force her to take experimental but effective drugs that will make her into the greatest violinist that the world has ever known, for the purpose of benefiting humanity by creating transcendently beautiful recordings that will stimulate a new burst of interest in the fine arts. Would she have the moral right to refuse to do so? Later, when she had been released, if she reconsidered the idea, would she have the moral right to take the same drugs? What if the motive were merely to profit by selling the recordings?