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A Human Performance Perspective on the Ethical Use of Cogniceuticals: Commentary on “Recommendations for the Ethical Use of Pharmacologic Fatigue Countermeasures in the U.S. Military”

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Meijer M. A human performance perspective on the ethical use of cogniceuticals: commentary on “recommendations for the ethical use of pharmacologic fatigue countermeasures in the U.S. military.” Aviat Space Environ Med 2007; 78:(5, Suppl.):B131–B133.



This commentary provides a human performance perspective on the question: Should there be a battle over the use of cognitive enhancement technologies in war? In trying to answer this question Russo presents a psycho-medical model with four guiding questions for the ethical use of cogniceuticals, psycho-active pharmaceuticals, which are likely to enhance cognitive performance. In examining two examples of modern warfare with his guiding questions, he concludes that a war on the use of cognitive enhancement technologies in war is not always necessary. In this commentary three additional points of view are discussed. Firstly, a human performance perspective on manned weapon systems is presented, next to Russo’s psycho-medical model. From this human performance perspective it is recommended to make military personnel and their commanders aware of the detrimental effects of fatigue and exhaustion on vigilance and decision making. Secondly, the quality of life of military personnel is introduced as a criterion for the ethical use of cogniceuticals. It appears that performance and quality of life can be addressed simultaneously in manned weapon systems. Thirdly, it is recommended to continue the discussion on ethical use of cogniceuticals by feeding it with empirical data from randomized controlled trial studies, in stead of examining cases and logical reasoning only.
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Keywords: bioethics; cogniceuticals; cognitive enhancement; countermeasures; fatigue; military; neuroethics

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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