Edited by Michele Loi (Genome Function Unit)
|Summary||The concept of human biological enhancement has been used to describe the augmentation of human capacities based on some sort of biological manipulation. By and large, most philosophers work with one or the other of the following two definitions of human biological enhancement: (A) improving the well-being of persons, including the removal of disabilities defined as bio-social obstacles that reduce human well-being; (B) expanding or augmenting human capacities. These two definitions have different intentions and (arguably) different extensions since many people deny that expanding or augmenting human capacities (especially in the normal range) improves well-being and has much in common with removing disability. Some authors and authorities use "enhancement" and "therapy" as mutually excluding categories ("enhancement" being the biomedical improvement of normal or healthy human traits), others do not. Most of the arguments in this area have been initially developed within the debate on eugenics and human genetic enhancement, and some of them also belong to the broader emerging field of "neuroethics". (Hence the reader will notice a significant overlap between these phil-paper categories). Beside the genetic case, enhancement ranges from everyday cognitive stimulants (coffee), to doping in sport competitions, and off label drugs, such as methylphenidate (to prolong the attention span). Social network, education, and brain stimulation have also all been regarded as enhancements. More controversially, bioethicists have discussed "affective enhancement" (the use of oxytocin to improve relationships) and "moral enhancement", i.e. the use of all possible means (including pharmacological stimulants) to improve the moral quality of human choices. Part of the current debate elaborates the concerns of the ideology of "transhumanism" (with non strictly academic ramifications), advocating the use of biotechnology to radically transcend the present human condition.|
|Key works||The early literature on biological enhancement overlaps with that on eugenic selection (Savulescu 2001) and human genetic enhancement (Harris 1992, Buchanan et al 2000, Fukuyama 2002, Habermas 2003). In the most recent literature, the ideas of moral enhancement (Douglas 2008), the relation between enhancement, Darwinian evolution, and moral status (Buchanan 2011, Douglas 2013), justice and human development (Buchanan 2008), the issue of enhancement in sport (Tamburrini & Tännsjö 2005, Miah ms) are developed further. The idea of enhancement is also used to advance the conceptual debate on disability, normal functioning, and well-being (Kahane & Savulescu 2012, Savulescu 2009, Kahane & Savulescu 2009). For a discussion of transhumanism and radical enhancement (creating abilities that do not belong to the biological repertoire of the species homo sapiens), see, respectively, Bostrom 2003, Miah 2008|
|Introductions||Bostrom & Roache 2007 Buchanan 2009 Chadwick 2011 Miah unknown|
Using PhilPapers from home?
Click here to configure this browser for off-campus access.
Monitor this page
Be alerted of all new items appearing on this page. Choose how you want to monitor it:
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers