Human development or human enhancement? A methodological reflection on capabilities and the evaluation of information technologies
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Ethics and Information Technology 13 (2):81-92 (2011)
Nussbaum’s version of the capability approach is not only a helpful approach to development problems but can also be employed as a general ethical-anthropological framework in ‘advanced’ societies. This paper explores its normative force for evaluating information technologies, with a particular focus on the issue of human enhancement. It suggests that the capability approach can be a useful way of to specify a workable and adequate level of analysis in human enhancement discussions, but argues that any interpretation of what these capabilities mean is itself dependent on (interpretations of) the techno-human practices under discussion. This challenges the capability approach’s means-end dualism concerning the relation between on the one hand technology and on the other hand humans and capabilities. It is argued that instead of facing a choice between development and enhancement, we better reflect on how we want to shape human-technological practices, for instance by using the language of capabilities. For this purpose, we have to engage in a cumbersome hermeneutics that interprets dynamic relations between unstable capabilities, technologies, practices, and values. This requires us to modify the capability approach by highlighting and interpreting its interpretative dimension.
|Keywords||Capabilities Ethics Hermeneutics Human enhancement Human-technology relations Information technology|
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References found in this work BETA
Martha Nussbaum (2001). Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach. Cambridge University Press.
John Harris (2007). Enhancing Evolution: The Ethical Case for Making Better People. Princeton University Press.
Andy Clark & David J. Chalmers (1998). The Extended Mind. Analysis 58 (1):7-19.
Citations of this work BETA
Mark Coeckelbergh, Cristina Pop, Ramona Simut, Andreea Peca, Sebastian Pintea, Daniel David & Bram Vanderborght (forthcoming). A Survey of Expectations About the Role of Robots in Robot-Assisted Therapy for Children with ASD: Ethical Acceptability, Trust, Sociability, Appearance, and Attachment. Science and Engineering Ethics:1-19.
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