Moral perspectives on stimulant use by healthy students

Gerrit Christiaan Verster, Anton Albert van Niekerk


The quest for enhancement has been part of human culture for thousands of years. Progress in scientific developments and especially in medical science has enabled previously unimaginable advances to be employed in endeavours to improve human functioning in its various forms. Previously enhancement focused on aspects such as prolonging life, improving the immune system or cosmetic enhancements. Cognitive enhancement is currently receiving substantial attention. The use of stimulants such as methylphenidate, especially among students at tertiary institutions aiming to enhance their cognitive abilities, has raised concerns, ranging from safety issues and the risk of drug abuse to moral issues relating to the broader context of enhancement. We consider arguments used to debate both the promotion of enhancement therapies and the restriction and possibly even prevention of their use.

Authors' affiliations

Gerrit Christiaan Verster, Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University

Anton Albert van Niekerk, Centre for Applied Ethics, Stellenbosch University

Full Text



Enhancement; Methylphenidate; Ethics

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2012;102(12):909-911. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.6090

Article History

Date submitted: 2012-06-25
Date published: 2012-10-22

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