Philosophy of Psychopharmacology: Smart Pills, Happy Pills, and Pepp Pills by Dan J. Stein

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In Island, Aldous Huxley suggests the possibility of using a psychedelic to enhance transcendental experience, spirituality, and consciousness. But in his Brave New World soma serves to illustrate how psychopharmacological enhancement can be dehumanizing.  Is there a middle ground? Stein (a practicing psychiatrist and medical school professor) tackles a large number of important ethical, philosophical and moral questions relating to this issue. What is the distinction between the use of psychiatric medications for therapy versus enhancement (so-called “cosmetic psychopharmacology”)?  Is there a rationale for using psychotropics to optimize psychological well being even in the absence of disorder? And how does one define a psychiatric disorder? Is it a necessary and sufficient condition or is it a category reflecting particular social practices, a social construct? Stein offers an integrated cognitive-affective approach to how we think about science, language, and medicine drawing insights from a host of authorities from Plato to Wittgenstein.  A 58-page bibliography provides a gold mine for further study. Get this title through interlibrary loan.

© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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