In the United States research is going ahead into drugs that would inhibit the formation of traumatic emotions and thereby inhibit the strength and intensity of traumatic memories by “blocking” the effects of stress hormones and the brain’s hormonal reactions to fear. The rationale behind this research is that such drugs would be useful for individuals who must face traumatic events as part of their work, such as soldiers, police and fire-fighters, as well as providing a possible way of preventing and treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The research and development of these drugs raises issues for philosophy, as well as for psychologists and psychiatrists working in the area of traumatic stress. For philosophy, empirical information about the use and development of these drugs has implications for theories of personal identity and moral agency particularly in relation to the connection between memory, emotion and the self. Philosophy can also provide an important analysis of the ethical implications of the drugs, both in development and application – for example, issues relating to their possible use in the military. For practitioners working in psychiatry, psychology and defence, these drugs raise issues about the treatment and prevention of traumatic stress. Empirical research into the effects of these drugs on the memory, emotion and well-being of patients would provide important insights in how these drugs compare with other treatments.

By bringing together different practitioners, philosophers and potential consumers, this workshop aims to gain a broad understanding of the empirical, ethical and pragmatic issues connected to the development and potential uses of these drugs. The aim of the workshop would be to consider whether the research and development of these drugs should be pursued. We are interested in papers that can provide perspectives on how these drugs work, how they might be developed, how possible consumers of these drugs might view them, and the ethical and philosophical implications of the use and development of such drugs. Papers will be presented that take a philosophical, applied ethical, practitioner and consumer point of view.