Is there a difference between therapy and enhancement?

March 15, 2010 • Posted in Bioethics 101

Early in this debate, a number of people hoped to find a “bright line” between therapy and enhancement.  Various issues were considered, such as:

— Is reconstructing a breast after cancer surgery the same as gifting your teenage daughter with breast implants?
— If you were born with a deformity that has been corrected with prostheses, and those prostheses enable you to run faster than people without them, do you have a therapeutic advantage, or have you been enhanced?  The International Association of Athletics Federations (I.A.A.F.) has dealt with this issue, in the person of Oscar Pistorius (
— Stimulants often help people overcome some besetting conditions: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or narcolepsy, for instance.  Should they be used by others (without the conditions), who want to stay awake longer to study for that exam or drive those extra miles?  These are some of the questions addressed in the arena of “neuroethics”.

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