Should we use Commitment Contracts to Regulate Student use of Cognitive Enhancing Drugs?

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Abstract

Are universities justified in trying to regulate student use of cognitive enhancing drugs? In this article I argue that they can be, but that the most appropriate kind of regulatory intervention is likely to be voluntary in nature. To be precise, I argue that universities could justifiably adopt a commitment contract system of regulation wherein students are encouraged to voluntarily commit to not using cognitive enhancing drugs (or to using them in a specific way). If they are found to breach that commitment, they should be penalized by, for example, forfeiting a number of marks on their assessments. To defend this model of regulation, I adopt a recently-proposed evaluative framework for determining the appropriateness of enhancement in specific domains of activity, and I focus on particular existing types of cognitive enhancement drugs, not hypothetical or potential forms. In this way, my argument is tailored to the specific features of university education, and common patterns of usage among students. It is not concerned with the general ethical propriety of using cognitive enhancing drugs.

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