About this topic
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 1992Buchanan et al 2001Fukuyama 2002Habermas 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
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  1. Review of The Case Against Perfection. [REVIEW]Keith Abney - 2008 - Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology 2 (3).
    Sandel's book argues against genetic enhancement as an illegitimate expression of a drive to human mastery and a rejection of the proper appreciation of the gift of life. His view combines bad theology with bad virtue ethics, and exemplifies the problem of status quo bias in ethics.
  2. Moral Bioenhancement is Dangerous.N. Agar - 2015 - Journal of Medical Ethics 41 (4):343-345.
  3. A Question About Defining Moral Bioenhancement.N. Agar - 2014 - Journal of Medical Ethics 40 (6):369-370.
    David DeGrazia1 offers, to my mind, a decisive response to the bioconservative suggestion that moral bioenhancement threatens human freedom or undermines its value. In this brief commentary, I take issue with DeGrazia's way of defining MB. A different concept of MB exposes a danger missed by his analysis.Two ways to define MBDeGrazia presents MB as a form of enhancement directed at moral capacities. There are, in the philosophical literature, two broad approaches to defining human enhancement. Simplifying somewhat, one account identifies (...)
  4. Why is It Possible to Enhance Moral Status and Why Doing so is Wrong?N. Agar - 2013 - Journal of Medical Ethics 39 (2):67-74.
    This paper presents arguments for two claims. First, post-persons, beings with a moral status superior to that of mere persons, are possible. Second, it would be bad to create such beings. Actions that risk bringing them into existence should be avoided. According to Allen Buchanan, it is possible to enhance moral status up to the level of personhood. But attempts to improve status beyond that fail for want of a target - there is no category of moral status superior to (...)
  5. Still Afraid of Needy Post-Persons.N. Agar - 2013 - Journal of Medical Ethics 39 (2):81-83.
    I want to thank all of those who have commented on my article in the Journal of Medical Ethics.1 The commentaries address a wide cross-section of the issues raised in my article. I have organised my responses thematically.The state of playAllen Buchanan's scepticism2 about moral statuses higher than personhood derives, in part, from our apparent inability to describe them. We seem to have little difficulty in imagining what it might be to have scientific understanding far beyond that of any human (...)
  6. Why We Can't Really Say What Post-Persons Are.N. Agar - 2012 - Journal of Medical Ethics 38 (3):144-145.
  7. Moral Bioenhancement and the Utilitarian Catastrophe.Nicholas Agar - 2015 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 24 (1):37-47.
  8. We Must Not Create Beings with Moral Standing Superior to Our Own.Nicholas Agar - 2013 - Journal of Medical Ethics 39 (11):709-709.
    Ingmar Persson challenges1 an argument in my book Humanity's End: Why We Should Reject Radical Enhancement2 that harms predictably suffered by unenhanced humans justify banning radical enhancement. Here I understand radical enhancement as producing beings with mental and physical capacities that greatly exceed those of the most capable current human. I called these results of radical enhancement posthumans, though I think that Persson may be right that this is not the most felicitous name for them.The focus of my argument was (...)
  9. Sport, Simulation, and EPO.Nicholas Agar - 2011 - In Gregory E. Kaebnick (ed.), The Ideal of Nature: Debates About Biotechnology and the Environment. Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 149.
  10. Liberal Eugenics: In Defence of Human Enhancement.Nicholas Agar - 2008 - Wiley-Blackwell.
    In this provocative book, philosopher Nicholas Agar defends the idea that parents should be allowed to enhance their children’s characteristics. Gets away from fears of a Huxleyan ‘Brave New World’ or a return to the fascist eugenics of the past Written from a philosophically and scientifically informed point of view Considers real contemporary cases of parents choosing what kind of child to have Uses ‘moral images’ as a way to get readers with no background in philosophy to think about moral (...)
  11. Human Vs. Posthuman-Reply.Nicholas Agar - 2007 - Hastings Center Report 37 (5):5-6.
  12. Whereto Transhumanism? The Literature Reaches a Critical Mass.Nicholas Agar - 2007 - Hastings Center Report 37 (3):12-17.
  13. The Problem with Nature.Nicholas Agar - 2002 - Hastings Center Report 32 (6):39-40.
  14. Germ-Line Genetic Enhancement and Rawlsian Primary Goods.Fritz Allhoff - 2005 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 15 (1):39-56.
    : Genetic interventions raise a host of moral issues and, of its various species, germ-line genetic enhancement is the most morally contentious. This paper surveys various arguments against germ-line enhancement and attempts to demonstrate their inadequacies. A positive argument is advanced in favor of certain forms of germ-line enhancements, which holds that they are morally permissible if and only if they augment Rawlsian primary goods, either directly or by facilitating their acquisition.
  15. Ethics of Human Enhancement: An Executive Summary. [REVIEW]Fritz Allhoff, Patrick Lin & Jesse Steinberg - 2011 - Science and Engineering Ethics 17 (2):201-212.
    With multi-year funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), a team of researchers has just released a comprehensive report detailing ethical issues arising from human enhancement (Allhoff et al. 2009). While we direct the interested reader to that (much longer) report, we also thank the editors of this journal for the invitation to provide an executive summary thereof. This summary highlights key results from each section of that report and does so in a self-standing way; in other words, this (...)
  16. Gregory E. Kaebnick and Thomas H. Murray, Eds., Synthetic Biology and Morality: Artificial Life and the Bounds of Nature. [REVIEW]Mahesh Ananth - 2016 - Journal of Value Inquiry 50 (1):241-248.
  17. Public Goods and Procreation.Jonny Anomaly - 2014 - Monash Bioethics Review 32 (3-4):172-188.
  18. Review of Michael Hauskeller, Better Humans? Understanding the Enhancement Project. [REVIEW]Jonny Anomaly - 2013 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.
  19. Review of Allen Buchanan, Beyond Humanity? The Ethics of Biomedical Enhancement. [REVIEW]Jonny Anomaly - 2012 - Bioethics 26 (7):391-392.
  20. Great Minds Think Different: Preserving Cognitive Diversity in an Age of Gene Editing.Jonny Anomaly, Julian Savulescu & Christopher Gyngell - forthcoming - In X. pp. 0-0.
  21. Borrowed Beauty? Understanding Identity in Asian Facial Cosmetic Surgery.Yves Saint James Aquino & Norbert Steinkamp - 2016 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 19 (3):431-441.
    This review aims to identify (1) sources of knowledge and (2) important themes of the ethical debate related to surgical alteration of facial features in East Asians. This article integrates narrative and systematic review methods. In March 2014, we searched databases including PubMed, Philosopher’s Index, Web of Science, Sociological Abstracts, and Communication Abstracts using key terms “cosmetic surgery,” “ethnic*,” “ethics,” “Asia*,” and “Western*.” The study included all types of papers written in English that discuss the debate on rhinoplasty and blepharoplasty (...)
  22. Moral Enhancement and Those Left Behind.Alfred Archer - 2016 - Bioethics 30 (7):500-510.
    Opponents to genetic or biomedical human enhancement often claim that the availability of these technologies would have negative consequences for those who either choose not to utilize these resources or lack access to them. However, Thomas Douglas has argued that this objection has no force against the use of technologies that aim to bring about morally desirable character traits, as the unenhanced would benefit from being surrounded by such people. I will argue that things are not as straightforward as Douglas (...)
  23. Bioethics and Human Enhancement: An Interview with Julian Savulescu.M. Ángeles Arráez, Miguel Moreno, Francisco Lara, Pedro Francés & Javier Rodríguez Alcázar - 2010 - Dilemata 3:15-25.
  24. Human Enhancement: A New Issue in Philosophical Agenda.Marco Azevedo - 2013 - Princípios. Revista de Filosofía 20 (33):265-303.
    Since before we can remember, humanity aims to overcome its biological limitations; such a goal has certainly played a key role in the advent of technique. However, despite the benefits that technique may bring, the people who make use of it will inevitably be under risk of harm. Even though human technical wisdom consists in attaining the best result without compromising anybody’s safety, misuses are always a possibility in the horizon. Nowadays, technology can be used for more than just improving (...)
  25. Virtue Essentialism, Prototypes, and the Moral Conservative Opposition to Enhancement Technologies: A Neuroethical Critique.John Banja - 2011 - American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 2 (2):31-38.
    Moral conservatives such as the ones who served on George W. Bush’s President’s Councils on Bioethics are known to be cautious about if not categorically opposed to enhancement technologies. This article examines the argumentative styles of two of the best known of these scholars, Leon Kass and Michael Sandel, as gleaned from essays they authored while serving on Bush’s councils. The goal of this essay is to evaluate their argumentative approach opposing enhancement, which I call “virtue essentialism.” Using a critical (...)
  26. Normality, Disease, and Enhancement.Theodore M. Benditt - 2007 - In Harold Kincaid & Jennifer McKitrick (eds.), Establishing medical reality: Methodological and metaphysical issues in philosophy of medicine. Springer. pp. 13-21.
    The vagueness or imprecision of ‘the normal’ allows it to be exploited for various purposes and political ends. It is conspicuous in both medicine and athletics; I am going to try to say something about the normal in each of these areas. In medicine the idea of the normal is often deployed in understanding what constitutes disease and hence, as some see it, in determining the role of physicians, in determining what is or ought to be covered by insurance, and (...)
  27. A Thomistic Account of Anti-Love Biotechnology.Brandon Boesch - 2013 - American Journal of Bioethics 13 (11):30-31.
    Applies a generally Thomistic framework to Earp and colleagues' (2013) discussion of anti-love biotechnology. Discusses some of the constraints that should be placed on the use of such a technology from a Thomistic perspective.
  28. Human Enhancement, Edited by Julian Savulescu and Nick Bostrom. [REVIEW]G. Bognar - 2012 - Mind 121 (481):225-229.
  29. Human Genetic Enhancements: A Transhumanist Perspective. [REVIEW]Nick Bostrom - 2003 - Journal of Value Inquiry 37 (4):493-506.
    Transhumanism is a loosely defined movement that has developed gradually over the past two decades. It promotes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and evaluating the opportunities for enhancing the human condition and the human organism opened up by the advancement of technology. Attention is given to both present technologies, like genetic engineering and information technology, and anticipated future ones, such as molecular nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.
  30. Ethical Issues in Human Enhancement.Nick Bostrom & Rebecca Roache - 2007 - In J. Ryberg, T. Petersen & C. Wolf (eds.), New Waves in Applied Ethics. Palgrave-Macmillan. pp. 120--152.
    Human enhancement has emerged in recent years as a blossoming topic in applied ethics. With continuing advances in science and technology, people are beginning to realize that some of the basic parameters of the human condition might be changed in the future. One important way in which the human condition could be changed is through the enhancement of basic human capacities. If this becomes feasible within the lifespan of many people alive today, then it is important now to consider the (...)
  31. The Wisdom of Nature: An Evolutionary Heuristic for Human Enhancement.Nick Bostrom & Anders Sandberg - 2009 - In Julian Savulescu & Nick Bostrom (eds.), Human Enhancement. Oxford University Press. pp. 375--416.
  32. Human Enhancement Ethics: The State of the Debate.Nick Bostrom & Julian Savulescu - 2009 - In . Oxford University Press. pp. 1--22.
  33. Thomas Aquinas: Teacher of Transhumanity?John Boyer & Geoffrey Meadows - 2015 - In John P. Hittinger & Daniel C. Wagner (eds.), Thomas Aquinas: Teacher of Humanity. Newcastle Upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. pp. 176-187.
  34. Enhancing Evolution and "Enhancing Evolution".Iain Brassington - 2010 - Bioethics 24 (8):395-402.
    It has been claimed in several places that the new genetic technologies allow humanity to achieve in a generation or two what might take natural selection hundreds of millennia in respect of the elimination of certain diseases and an increase in traits such as intelligence. More radically, it has been suggested that those same technologies could be used to instil characteristics that we might reasonably expect never to appear due to natural selection alone. John Harris, a proponent of this genomic (...)
  35. Human Nature and Enhancement.Allen Buchanan - 2009 - Bioethics 23 (3):141-150.
    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 (...)
  36. Enhancement and the Ethics of Development.Allen Buchanan - 2008 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 18 (1):pp. 1-34.
    Much of the debate about the ethics of enhancement has proceeded according to two framing assumptions. The first is that although enhancement carries large social risks, the chief benefits of enhancement are to those who are enhanced (or their parents, in the case of enhancing the traits of children). The second is that, because we now understand the wrongs of state-driven eugenics, enhancements, at least in liberal societies, will be personal goods, chosen or not chosen in a market for enhancement (...)
  37. Beyond Humanity?: The Ethics of Biomedical Enhancement.Allen E. Buchanan - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
    In Beyond Humanity a leading philosopher offers a powerful and controversial exploration of urgent ethical issues concerning human enhancement.
  38. Empirical Support for the Moral Salience of the Therapy-Enhancement Distinction in the Debate Over Cognitive, Affective and Social Enhancement.Laura Y. Cabrera, Nicholas S. Fitz & Peter B. Reiner - 2015 - Neuroethics 8 (3):243-256.
    The ambiguity regarding whether a given intervention is perceived as enhancement or as therapy might contribute to the angst that the public expresses with respect to endorsement of enhancement. We set out to develop empirical data that explored this. We used Amazon Mechanical Turk to recruit participants from Canada and the United States. Each individual was randomly assigned to read one vignette describing the use of a pill to enhance one of 12 cognitive, affective or social domains. The vignettes described (...)
  39. Steve Clarke, Julian Savulescu, C. A. J. Coady, Alberto Giubilini, and Sagar Sanyal (Eds.), The Ethics of Human Enhancement: Understanding the Debate, Oxford University Press, 2016, 269pp. [REVIEW]Stephen M. Campbell & Sven Nyholm - 2017 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2017.
    The Ethics of Human Enhancement: Understanding the Debate has two chief aims. These aims are to help readers understand the existing debate and to move the debate forward. The book consists of an introductory chapter by Alberto Giubilini and Sagar Sanyal (which lays out some prominent bioconservative objections to enhancement), eight essays grouped under the theme of "Understanding the Debate" (Section I), and eight devoted to "Advancing the Debate" (Section II). In this review, we offer brief summaries of each essay (...)
  40. Moral Relevance in the Concepts and Language of Human Synthetic Moral Enhancement.Christian Carrozzo - 2015 - APA Newsletter on Philosophy and Medicine 14 (2):06-12.
  41. The Epistemology of Cognitive Enhancement.J. Adam Carter & Duncan Pritchard - 2016 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy.
    A common epistemological assumption in contemporary bioethics held b y both proponents and critics of non-traditional forms of cognitive enhancement is that cognitive enhancement aims at the facilitation of the accumulation of human knowledge. This paper does three central things. First, drawing from recent work in epistemology, a rival account of cognitive enhancement, framed in terms of the notion of cognitive achievement rather than knowledge, is proposed. Second, we outline and respond to an axiological objection to our proposal that draws (...)
  42. Enhancements: Improvements for Whom?Ruth Chadwick - 2011 - Bioethics 25 (4).
  43. In Support of Human Enhancement.Sarah Chan & John Harris - 2007 - Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology 1 (1).
  44. EVOLUTIONARY RISK OF HIGH HUME TECHNOLOGIES. Article 3. EVOLUTIONARY SEMANTICS AND BIOETHICS.V. T. Cheshko, L. V. Ivanitskaya & V. I. Glazko - 2016 - Integrative Annthropology (1):21-27.
    The co-evolutionary concept of three-modal stable evolutionary strategy of Homo sapiens is developed. The concept based on the principle of evolutionary complementarity of anthropogenesis: value of evolutionary risk and evolutionary path of human evolution are defined by descriptive (evolutionary efficiency) and creative-teleological (evolutionary correctness) parameters simultaneously, that cannot be instrumental reduced to other ones. Resulting volume of both parameters define the vectors of biological, social, cultural and techno-rationalistic human evolution by two gear mechanism — genetic and cultural co-evolution and techno-humanitarian (...)
  45. How to Live Forever: Science Fiction and Philosophy.Stephen R. L. Clark - 1995 - Routledge.
    Immortality is a subject which has long been explored and imagined by science fiction writers. In his intriguing new study, Stephen R.L.Clark argues that the genre of science fiction writing allows investigation of philosophical questions about immortality without the constraints of academic philosophy. He reveals how fantasy accounts of issues such as resurrection, disembodied survival, reincarnation and devices or drugs for preserving life can be used as an important resource for philosophical inquiry and examines how a society of immortals might (...)
  46. Human Development or Human Enhancement? A Methodological Reflection on Capabilities and the Evaluation of Information Technologies.Mark Coeckelbergh - 2011 - Ethics and Information Technology 13 (2):81-92.
    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 (...)
  47. Market Stimulus and Genomic Justice: Evaluating the Effects of Market Access to Human Germ-Line Enhancement.G. K. D. Crozier & Hajzler Christopher - 2010 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 20 (2):161-179.
    In the debates surrounding the ethical dimensions of interventions in the human genome, much attention is paid to determining whether—and if so, how—market access to these technologies ought to be managed in order to maximize social benefit. There are those who advocate a “laissez-faire” free-market approach to the development and use of genetic and genomic interventions. We are sympathetic to this view insofar as we understand the workings of the market stimulus effect. We use the term “market stimulus effect” to (...)
  48. The Epistemology of Moral Bioenhancement.Parker Crutchfield - 2016 - Bioethics 30 (5):389-396.
    Moral bioenhancement is the potential practice of manipulating individuals’ moral behaviors by biological means in order to help resolve pressing moral issues such as climate change and terrorism. This practice has obvious ethical implications, and these implications have been and continue to be discussed in the bioethics literature. What have not been discussed are the epistemological implications of moral bioenhancement. This article details some of these implications of engaging in moral bioenhancement. The argument begins by making the distinction between moral (...)
  49. Questions of Human Enhancement: An Editorial.Anthony Cutter & Bert Gordijn - 2007 - Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology 1 (1).
    Introducing a special issue of a journal is a difficult, but pleasurable task for any editor. One must chose what to say about the themes of the issue, and how to introduce the papers presented. However, this task becomes still more complex when the special issue in question forms the inaugural issue of a new journal. This is the case here as we find ourselves introducing "Questions in Human Enhancement" as the inaugural issue of Studies in Ethics, Law and Technology. (...)
  50. Playing with the “Playing God”.Hossein Dabbagh & E. Andreeva - 2017 - In V. Menuz, J. Roduit, D. Roiz, A. Erler & N. Stepanovan (eds.), Future-Human. Life. Geneva, Switzerland: neohumanitas. org. pp. 72-78.
    Some philosophers and theologians have argued against the idea of Human Enhancement, saying that human beings should not play God. A closer look, however, might reveal that the question of who is playing Whom is far from being so clear-cut. This chapter will address the idea of human enhancement from the standpoint of theistic theology, arguing that human enhancement and theistic theology may not be so very incompatible, after all.
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