Stable Strategies for Personal Development: On the Prudential Value of Radical Enhancement and the Philosophical Value of Speculative Fiction

Metaphilosophy 51 (1):128-150 (2020)

Authors
Ian Stoner
Saint Paul College
Abstract
In her short story “Stable Strategies for Middle Management,” Eileen Gunn imagines a future in which Margaret, an office worker, seeks radical genetic enhancements intended to help her secure the middle-management job she wants. One source of the story’s tension and dark humor is dramatic irony: readers can see that the enhancements Margaret buys stand little chance of making her life go better for her; enhancing is, for Margaret, probably a prudential mistake. This paper argues that our positions in the real world are sufficiently similar to Margaret’s position in Gunn’s fictional world that we should take this story seriously as grounding an argument from analogy for the conclusion that radical genetic enhancements are, for us, probably a prudential mistake. The paper then defends this method. When the question at hand is one of speculative ethics, there is no method better fit to the purpose than argument from analogy to speculative fiction.
Keywords human enhancement  philosophical methods  philosophy and literature  science fiction  speculative ethics  well‐being  transhumanism
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DOI 10.1111/meta.12404
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