Monday, April 06, 2009

recession? what recession?

The NY Times reports today that neuroscientists are on the verge of a breakthrough treatment that could allow for selective memory loss. The article suggests that this treatment could be used, for example, to help people suffering from serious psychological trauma, dementia, and so forth.

So far, so good: but aren't there some ethical problems here? Supposing someone wants the drug so as to forget her former--or current--husband? Or what if a pharmacy were to receive, say, eighty million prescriptions to purge memory of the Holocaust, or three hundred million to pretend slavery didn't happen?

In Slaughterhouse Five, Kurt Vonnegut suggested that people would be happier if they could learn to focus on happier moments. I don't think he intended to be taken quite so literally.


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