Enhancing Authenticity

Neil Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


Some philosophers have criticized the use of psychopharmaceuticals on the grounds that even if these drugs enhance the person using them, they threaten their authenticity. Others have replied by pointing out that the conception of authenticity upon which this argument rests is contestable; on a rival conception, psychopharmaceuticals might be used to enhance our authenticity. Since, however, it is difficult to decide between these competing conceptions of authenticity, the debate seems to end in a stalemate. I suggest that we need not resolve this debate to end the stalemate. New technologies which alter the self can be understood within the framework of the first conception of authenticity, I suggest, not as threatening the authentic self, but rather as bringing the outward appearance of the self into line with its deepest essence. Since psychopharmaceutical use can plausibly be understood on this model, it can be seen as enhancing our authenticity on either conception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-318
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Philosophy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011
Externally publishedYes


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