David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Bioethics 23 (3):141-150 (2009)
Appeals to the idea of human nature are frequent in the voluminous literature on the ethics of enhancing human beings through biotechnology. Two chief concerns about the impact of enhancements on human nature have been voiced. The first is that enhancement may alter or destroy human nature. The second is that if enhancement alters or destroys human nature, this will undercut our ability to ascertain the good because, for us, the good is determined by our nature. The first concern assumes that altering or destroying human nature is in itself a bad thing. The second concern assumes that human nature provides a standard without which we cannot make coherent, defensible judgments about what is good. I will argue (1) that there is nothing wrong, per se, with altering or destroying human nature, because, on a plausible understanding of what human nature is, it contains bad as well as good characteristics and there is no reason to believe that eliminating some of the bad would so imperil the good as to make the elimination of the bad impermissible, and (2) that altering or destroying human nature need not result in the loss of our ability to make judgments about the good, because we possess a conception of the good by which we can and do evaluate human nature. I will argue that appeals to human nature tend to obscure rather than illuminate the debate over the ethics of enhancement and can be eliminated in favor of more cogent considerations.
|Keywords||enhancement normative essentialism human nature|
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References found in this work BETA
Erik Parens (1995). The Goodness of Fragility: On the Prospect of Genetic Technologies Aimed at the Enhancement of Human Capacities. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 5 (2):141-153.
Citations of this work BETA
Tim Lewens (2012). Human Nature: The Very Idea. Philosophy and Technology 25 (4):459-474.
Russell Powell & Allen Buchanan (2011). Breaking Evolution's Chains: The Prospect of Deliberate Genetic Modification in Humans. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 36 (1):6-27.
Jukka Varelius (2009). Minimally Conscious State and Human Dignity. Neuroethics 2 (1):35-50.
R. Tonkens (2011). Parental Wisdom, Empirical Blindness, and Normative Evaluation of Prenatal Genetic Enhancement. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 36 (3):274-295.
Grant Ramsey (2012). How Human Nature Can Inform Human Enhancement: A Commentary on Tim Lewens's Human Nature: The Very Idea. Philosophy and Technology 25 (4):479-483.
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