Normality, therapy, and enhancement - What should bioconservatives say about the medicalization of love?

Alberto Giubilini
Università degli Studi di Milano (PhD)
According to human enhancement advocates, it is morally permissible (and sometimes obligatory) to use biomedical means to modulate or select certain biological traits in order to increase people’s welfare, even when there is no pathology to be treated or prevented. Some authors have recently proposed to extend the use of biomedical means to modulate lust, attraction, and attachment. I focus on some conceptual implications of this proposal, particularly with regard to bioconservatives’ understanding of the notions of therapy and enhancement I first explain what makes the proposal of medicalizing love interesting and unique, compared to the other forms of bioenhancement usually advocated. I then discuss how the medicalization of love bears on the more general debate on human enhancement, particularly with regard to the key notion of “normality” that is commonly used to define the therapy–enhancement distinction. This analysis suggests that the medicalization of love, in virtue of its peculiarity, requires bioconservatives to reconsider their way of understanding and applying the notions of “therapy” and “enhancement.” More in particular, I show that, because a non-arbitrary and value-free notion of “therapy” cannot be applied to the case of love, bioconservatives have the burden of either providing some new criterion that could be used for drawing a line between permissible and impermissible medicalization, or demonstrating that under no circumstances—including the cases in which love is already acknowledged to require medical intervention—can love fall within the domain of medicine.
Keywords Enhancement  Therapy  Normality  bioconservatism  love
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