Graduate studies at Western
Philosophy and Technology 25 (4):547-560 (2012)
|Abstract||One argument which is frequently levelled against the enhancement of human biology is that we do not understand the evolved function of our bodies well enough to meddle in our biology without producing unintended and potentially catastrophic effects. In particular, this argument is levelled against attempts to slow or eliminate the processes of human ageing, or ‘senescence’, which cause us to grow decrepit before we die. In this article, I claim that even if this argument could usefully be applied against attempts to enhance other human traits, it cannot be valid in the case of attempts to enhance the various processes that constitute senescence. I begin by reviewing the biology of ageing to show how it consists of a number of unrelated traits. Then, following the arguments of a number of evolutionary biologists, I explain that every one of these traits is a product of evolutionary ‘neglect’ rather than ‘intent’. Finally, I consider the strongest version of the argument against enhancing senescence, which acknowledges these facts about the evolution of ageing but insists that we have nevertheless have prudential reasons to avoid enhancement wherever there is some uncertainty about the genetics or evolutionary function of a trait. I provide two reasons for rejecting this version of the argument as well, even in the case of human senescence, where such uncertainty is currently significant.|
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
|Through your library||Configure|
Similar books and articles
Stephen J. Boulter (2007). The “Evolutionary Argument” and the Metaphilosophy of Commonsense. Biology and Philosophy 22 (3):369-382.
Stavros Ioannidis (2013). Regulatory Evolution and Theoretical Arguments in Evolutionary Biology. Science and Education 22 (2):279-292.
Iain Brassington (2010). Enhancing Evolution and "Enhancing Evolution&Quot;. Bioethics 24 (8):395-402.
Bradley E. Wilson (1996). Changing Conceptions of Species. Biology and Philosophy 11 (3):405-420.
Elliott Sober (2010). Natural Selection, Causality, and Laws: What Fodor and Piatelli-Palmarini Got Wrong. Philosophy of Science 77 (4):594-607.
Jason Scott Robert (2002). How Developmental is Evolutionary Developmental Biology? Biology and Philosophy 17 (5):591-611.
Peter Byrne (2009). Is Morality Undercut by Evolutionary Naturalism. Philo 12 (2):116-134.
Richard Alexander (1987). The Biology of Moral Systems. Aldine de Gruyter.
Russell Powell (2012). The Future of Human Evolution. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (1):145-175.
Geoff Childers (2011). What's Wrong with the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism? International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 69 (3):193-204.
Edouard Machery (2008). A Plea for Human Nature. Philosophical Psychology 21 (3):321 – 329.
Added to index2012-02-28
Total downloads16 ( #81,785 of 739,315 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #61,243 of 739,315 )
How can I increase my downloads?