[ExI] Scientists have found a drug that makes people more compassionate

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Fri Sep 25 08:00:21 UTC 2015

On 2015-09-25 07:21, Adrian Tymes wrote:
> On Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 12:15 AM, John Grigg 
> <possiblepaths2050 at gmail.com <mailto:possiblepaths2050 at gmail.com>> wrote:
>     "The drug, called tolcapone, prolongs the effect of dopamine in
>     the prefrontal cortex of the brain, a region involved in the
>     regulation of complex thought and our emotions. And early tests
>     suggest that it encourages people who take it to be more
>     fair-minded when it comes to money."
>     http://www.sciencealert.com/scientists-have-created-a-drug-that-makes-people-more-compassionate
> Now let's see how many people howl in protest out of fear it might be 
> used on them.

My favorite paper ever on enhancement attitudes is

Riis, J., Simmons, J. P., & Goodwin, G. P. (2008). Preferences for 
enhancement pharmaceuticals: The reluctance to enhance fundamental 
traits. /Journal of Consumer Research/, /35/(3), 495-508.

and they found only 9% of the respondents wanted a (fictional) kindness 
enhancer. People are not too keen on enhancing what they think is 
fundamental to themselves.

(When professor Julian Savulescu heard of this result during one of my 
lectures he shouted "They're wrong!" - he is one of the leading 
proponents of moral enhancement.)

Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Oxford University

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