‘Human Enhancement’? It’s all About ‘Body Modification’! Why We Should Replace the Term ‘Human Enhancement’ with ‘Body Modification’

NanoEthics 8 (3):307-315 (2014)
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The current use of the term ‘Human Enhancement’ implies that it is a modern, new phenomenon in which, for the first time in history, humans are able to break through their god or nature-given bodily limits thanks to the application of new technologies. The debate about the legitimation of ‘HE’, the selection of methods permitted, and the scope and purpose of these modern enhancement technologies has been dominated by ethical considerations, and has highlighted problems with the definition of the relevant norms. For example, ‘HE’ always presupposes that the current state of the ‘natural human’ or ‘healthy’ body is defined in opposition to an ‘artificial human’ or ‘diseased or disabled’ body, and also desirable technologies and methods are not but should be defined on the basis of objective, universally accepted criteria. All these definitions are, however, linked to socio-cultural norms and ideals, which can vary over time and between cultures. It is therefore impossible to arrive at a universal, durable definition of ‘enhancement’ that can be shared and understood globally, and will remain permanently valid. This discussion note contrasts the terms ‘HE’ and ‘Body Modification’ , and their respective strengths and weaknesses. ‘BM’ is a neutral term that is capable of encompassing every kind of modification, be it cultural, physical, psychological or neurological, is not limited to certain techniques and is not reliant on normative sub-definitions . In the light of this analysis, it is proposed that the term ‘HE’ be replaced with ‘BM’ in order to allow a neutral, unprejudiced discussion to take place



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