Cognitive Enhancement and Personal Identity

Nada Gligorov

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Enhancement can be defined as the improvement of normal individuals. There are several categories of enhancement, including physical enhancement, cognitive enhancement, and moral enhancement. In this chapter, I focus on the argument that cognitive enhancement using pharmaceutical means could cause disruptive changes in personal identity. I distinguish between numerical and narrative identity. I argue that cognitive enhancement would have no effect on numerical identity, but it could affect narrative identity. Narrative identity approximates the common notions of identity because it is characterized as a first-person effort to construct a concept of self. Despite the potential effect on narrative identity, I argue for the permissibility of the use of cognitive enhancers. I maintain that psychological traits can change without disrupting psychological continuity. This view is supported by evidence that individuals experience a great deal of psychological change over time, and the evidence that even when those changes are caused by the use of medication, they do not always create a disruption in narrative identity. I conclude that cognitive enhancement is permissible even when it produces changes in narrative identity.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudies in Brain and Mind
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages22
StatePublished - 2016

Publication series

NameStudies in Brain and Mind
ISSN (Print)1573-4536
ISSN (Electronic)2468-399X


  • Causal Chain
  • Cognitive Enhancement
  • Personal Identity
  • Personal Narrative
  • Psychological Change


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