50 Shades of Enhancement: Exploring the Grey Areas From a Legal Perspective – Elisabeth Peterson

In the wake of the 2012 Summer Paralympics and Lance Armstrong’s confession to taking performance-enhancing drugs, Tuesday night’s discussion in the School of Law of “The Enhancement Spectrum” seemed particularly relevant. Examples of both external and internal forms of enhancement were considered in video clips and a panel of representatives from the medical, biological, philosophical and legal communities.

The discussion, as supported by the Mason Institute, was visually manifested in a scatter-plot with “therapeutic” on the x-axis and “invasive” on the y-axis. Attendees of the event, as well as the panel, explored case studies of prosthetic limbs and stimulant prescription drugs such as Ritalin within these parameters, as well as within the contexts of the video games, the military and the increasingly enhancement-dependent future.

Though I did learn a great deal, I left “The Enhancement Spectrum” with more questions than answers.  To what extent did I consider enhancements socially, culturally and morally acceptable, with my new understanding of my morning coffee and iPhone as “enhancements”? What influence did my upbringing in the North-eastern United States have upon my attitude towards Ritalin and other “study drugs”? If it became commonplace, would I undergo voluntary invasive surgery to improve my performance? How would I feel about giving my children enhancements one day?

Kudos to the School of Law for a very engaging, thought-provoking presentation that was itself enhanced by its use of video clips and its spread of cheese and crackers!!


One response to “50 Shades of Enhancement: Exploring the Grey Areas From a Legal Perspective – Elisabeth Peterson

  1. What kind of cheese did they serve?? !! Some good thoughts there… Clearly, the line is very grey but not… In the case of competitive sports, especially when there is big money on the line, it seems pretty clear that performance enhancements are not appropriate. With our culture’s ever expanding obsession with “The Fountain of Youth” I think that to the extent people can use HGH, Testosterone, Ritalin or whatever to make their lives better. GREAT. …and for that matter, this is what Damien Hirst is all about with his Pharmaceutical installations of pills and drugs, spot painting etc. The idea the we as a society BELIEVE in these drugs — even if it’s just aspirin to get rid of a headache or statins to clear the plaque from our veins — to make our lives better, faster, longer, more energetic etc. In the “old days” it was religion. Today it’s science. Art documents it.

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