The Ethics of using Biomedical Enhancements in the Military

Research Paper Title

Bioethics of military performance enhancement.


Biological interventions to improve performance, such as amphetamines, have a long history of military use, and in the future may include more advanced biotechnologies.

This article discusses the ethics of using biomedical enhancements in the military.

The article begins by describing the distinction between biomedical enhancements and interventions intended to prevent, treat or mitigate disease.

It then sets forth three principles to guide the ethical use of bioenhancements-proportionality, paternalism and fairness.

The article applies these principles to concerns raised by military bioenhancement:

  • Safety;
  • Fairness in access to military reward;
  • Carryover effects to civilian life;
  • Whether service members can be ordered to use bioenhancements; and
  • When they may be permitted to do so voluntarily.


Mehlman, M. (2019) Bioethics of military performance enhancement. Journal of the Royal Army Medical Corps. 165(4), pp.226-231. doi: 10.1136/jramc-2018-001130. Epub 2019 Apr 29.


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