Human enhancement and supra-personal moral status

Philosophical Studies 162 (3):473-497 (2013)
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Abstract

Several authors have speculated that (1) the pharmaceutical, genetic or other technological enhancement of human mental capacities could result in the creation of beings with greater moral status than persons, and (2) the creation of such beings would harm ordinary, unenhanced humans, perhaps by reducing their immunity to permissible harm. These claims have been taken to ground moral objections to the unrestrained pursuit of human enhancement. In recent work, Allen Buchanan responds to these objections by questioning both (1) and (2). I argue that Buchanan’s response fails. However, I then outline an alternative response. This response starts from the thought that, though moral status-increasing human enhancements might render ordinary, unenhanced humans less immune to permissible harm, they need not worsen the overall distribution of this immunity across beings. In the course of the argument I explore the relation between mental capacity and moral status and between moral status and immunity to permissible harm

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Thomas Douglas
University of Oxford

Citations of this work

On the Idea of Degrees of Moral Status.Dick Timmer - forthcoming - Journal of Value Inquiry:1-19.
Better to be a Pig Dissatisfied than a Plant Satisfied.Ethan C. Terrill & Walter Veit - 2024 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 37 (4):1-17.
Shared consciousness and asymmetry.Shao-Pu Kang - 2022 - Synthese 200 (5):1-17.
The Morality of Moral Neuroenhancement.Thomas Douglas - forthcoming - In Clausen Jens & Levy Neil (eds.), Handbook of Neuroethics. Springer.

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Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Sources of the self: the making of the modern identity.Charles Taylor - 1989 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Animal Liberation.Peter Singer (ed.) - 1977 - Avon Books.

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