Topic: Enhancing responsibility

Presenter: Dr Nicole Vincent - Macquarie University (Sydney), Faculty of Arts

We normally think that people's responsibility diminishes when mental capacities are lost and that responsibility is restored when those capacities are regained. But how is responsibility affected when mental capacities are extended — for instance, by taking so-called cognitive enhancement medications like Ritalin and Modafinil? For instance, might some people - e.g. surgeons working long shifts in hospital - have a responsibility to take cognitive enhancement drugs to boost their performance, and would they be negligent or even reckless if they failed or refused to do this? Alternatively, once enhanced, would people acquire new and possibly greater responsibilities in virtue of now being more capable? Could they be blamed for failing to discharge those greater responsibilities, and does this make them more vulnerable to liability if things go wrong? I will answer most of these questions in the affirmative.

This seminar is presented by the TC Beirne School of Law Research Seminar Series and the UQ Philosophy Department. All welcome, no RSVP required. 

Contact: Beth Williams, ph: 334 69350, email:

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