Is Human Enhancement also a Personal Matter?

Science and Engineering Ethics 19 (1):161-177 (2013)
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Abstract

Emerging technologies are increasingly used in an attempt to “enhance the human body and/or mind” beyond the contemporary standards that characterize human beings. Yet, such standards are deeply controversial and it is not an easy task to determine whether the application of a given technology to an individual and its outcome can be defined as a human enhancement or not. Despite much debate on its potential or actual ethical and social impacts, human enhancement is not subject to any consensual definition. This paper proposes a timely and much needed examination of the various definitions found in the literature. We classify these definitions into four main categories: the implicit approach, the therapy-enhancement distinction, the improvement of general human capacities and the increase of well-being. After commenting on these different approaches and their limitations, we propose a definition of human enhancement that focuses on individual perceptions. While acknowledging that a definition that mainly depends on personal and subjective individual perceptions raises many challenges, we suggest that a comprehensive approach to define human enhancement could constitute a useful premise to appropriately address the complexity of the ethical and social issues it generates

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Beatrice Godard
Université de Montréal

References found in this work

The Case Against Perfection.Michael J. Sandel - 2004 - The Atlantic (April):1–11.
Normal Functioning and the Treatment-Enhancement Distinction.Norman Daniels - 2000 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 9 (3):309--322.
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.
Justice, Fairness, and Enhancement.Julian Savulescu - 2006 - Annals of New York Academy of Science 1093:321-338.

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