Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Psychopharmacological Hedonist's Orthodoxy: Part 1

A tiny contribution today, but the indication that I made some good progress and know my direction for the next few days.

How Did the Bioethicists Lose Sight of Gender in the Cosmetic Psychopharmacology Debate?: The Psychpharmacological Hedonists’ Orthodoxy.

The core insight—that both worries and intrigues Kramer—of the cosmetic psychopharmacology question is that Prozac reifies what personality traits are currently socially rewarded in a culture (1993, 270). The dilemma presented by Prozac, then, is if a pill can help a socially unrewarded person achieve the kind of personality likely to bring them recognition and success, should we prescribe it? Kramer’s answer to this question seems to be yes. Above, I demonstrated that Kramer thinks that the conformity that Prozac potentially creates is not a bad conformity, since it strives to make all people more assertive. Since Prozac promotes attributes that Kramer believes are in line with feminist aims, then Prozac is no mother’s little helper, hence, we do not have a misogynist pill on our hands.
While Kramer’s belief that Prozac is not a “mother’s little helper” drug goes a long way to explaining why enhancement debates that specifically concern Prozac become “gender-neutral” debates, I will now lay out, in greater detail, the argumentative strategy that Kramer adopts to defend enhancement (“cosmetic psychopharmacology”). I will refer to this strategy as the “’psychopharmacology Hedonist’ strategy” (PHS), because, as I will show, it becomes the “orthdox” strategy of ethicists supportive of Kramer’s defense of cosmetic psychopharmacology. The psychopharmacology Hedonist strategy consists of three claims:

PHS 1: Prozac gives us a greater range of personality choices from which to choose, therefore it maximizes autonomy for persons formerly crippled by indecisivenesss, shyness or a lack of assertion.

PHS 2: Hedonism pursued by licit pharmaceutical means is not unethical; moreover, hedonism is commensurate with an authentic self-creation project.

PHS 3: The belief that depression offers a “special perspective” encourages moral development is the product of pseudo-scientific thinking.

I will tackle each one of these claims to show not only the flawed reasoning, but also the way each claim diverts from the gender implications of cosmetic psychopharmacology.