News Stories

Will There be a Morality Pill the Future?

Will there be a pill (or vaccination?) that everyone could take that would guarantee moral behavior?

Some people are altruistic, while others are not. Why do some people risk their lives to help others, when some won't even bother to dial 911? When researchers there took two rats who shared a cage and trapped one of them in a tube that could be opened only from the outside, the free rat usually tried to open the door, eventually succeeding. But only 23 of 30 did this, meaning that rat responses in emergencies--like human responses--vary.

In the January 29th edition of the New York Times, Peter Singer and Agata Sagan speculate: "If continuing brain research does in fact show biochemical differences between the brains of those who help others and the brains of those who do not, could this lead to a 'morality pill'--a drug that makes us more likely to help? Given the many other studies linking biochemical conditions to mood and behavior, and the proliferation of drugs to modify them that have followed, the idea is not far-fetched. If so, would people choose to take it?

"Could criminals be given the option, as an alternative to prison, of a drug-releasing implant that would make them less likely to harm others? Might governments begin screening people to discover those most likely to commit crimes?" These are the kinds of difficult questions we may be grappling with in the future.

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