The Social and Ethical Acceptability of NBICs for Purposes of Human Enhancement: Why Does the Debate Remain Mired in Impasse?
Nanoethics 5 (3):295-307 (2011)
|Abstract||The emergence and development of convergent technologies for the purpose of improving human performance, including nanotechnology, biotechnology, information sciences, and cognitive science (NBICs), open up new horizons in the debates and moral arguments that must be engaged by philosophers who hope to take seriously the question of the ethical and social acceptability of these technologies. This article advances an analysis of the factors that contribute to confusion and discord on the topic, in order to help in understanding why arguments that form a part of the debate between transhumanism and humanism result in a philosophical and ethical impasse: 1. The lack of clarity that emerges from the fact that any given argument deployed (arguments based on nature and human nature, dignity, the good life) can serve as the basis for both the positive and the negative evaluation of NBICs. 2. The impossibility of providing these arguments with foundations that will enable others to deem them acceptable. 3. The difficulty of applying these same arguments to a specific situation. 4. The ineffectiveness of moral argument in a democratic society. The present effort at communication about the difficulties of the argumentation process is intended as a necessary first step towards developing an interdisciplinary response to those difficulties|
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