One Man's Authenticity is Another Man's Betrayal: A Reply to Levy



This article responds to Neil Levy's recent suggestion that: (1) the use of pharmaceutical enhancers can be understood as promoting our authenticity, no matter which of the two main contemporary conceptions of authenticity we adopt; and that (2) we do not need to decide between these two rival models (the ‘self-discovery’ and the ‘self-creation’ conception) in order to assess the common worry that enhancements will undermine our authenticity. Levy's core argument is based on a comparison between cases of people with ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ (GID) seeking sex reassignment surgery, and cases of enhancement via pharmaceuticals. While conceding the plausibility of Levy's claim (1), I offer reasons to resist (2), by pointing out structural differences between GID cases and some paradigmatic cases of pharmacological enhancement. I argue that these differences prevent the latter sort of cases from counting as authenticity-promoting on the self-discovery view. I conclude that Levy's proposed way of ‘breaking the stalemate’ in this debate is unsuccessful: we cannot avoid settling the dispute between the two models if we are to adequately address the authenticity worry about pharmacological enhancement.