Medical ethicists are starting to get worried about the possibility of employers requiring their workers take smart drugs to boost productivity. Hence this report entitled “When the boss turns pusher” in the Journal of Medical Ethics:
…the possibility of discrimination by employers and insurers against individuals who choose not to engage in such enhancement is a serious threat worthy of legislative intervention. While lawmakers should not prevent individuals from freely pursuing neurocognitive enhancement, they should act to ensure that such enhancement is not coerced.
It’s an interesting question. Another point concerns the anti-egalitarian nature of smart drugs. If their use confers a genuine advantage, but they remain expensive, it will be yet another exclusive tool of advancement for the rich. The JME suggests:
…objectors argue that neurocognitive enhancement is anti-egalitarian because these technologies are expected to be costly and the wealthy will have significantly more access to them.
This is indeed likely to be the case—unless society chooses to subsidise enhancement, as it does public education and (outside the USA) healthcare.
However, similar inequalities are generated by private grammar schools and tutors for the SAT (a college and university admission test) and Ivy League universities, yet few suggest outlawing these threats to distributive justice.
So the issue of equality is another political ballgame (I’d love to be able to get some memory enhancers on the NHS). Anyway the approach suggested vis a vis smart drugs by the JME seems very positive and enlightened.