In Enhancing Evolution, leading bioethicist John Harris dismantles objections to genetic engineering, stem-cell research, designer babies, and cloning and makes an ethical case for biotechnology that is both forthright and rigorous. Human enhancement, Harris argues, is a good thing--good morally, good for individuals, good as social policy, and good for a genetic heritage that needs serious improvement. Enhancing Evolution defends biotechnological interventions that could allow us to live longer, healthier, and even happier lives by, for example, providing us with immunity (...) from cancer and HIV/AIDS. Further, Harris champions the possibility of influencing the very course of evolution to give us increased mental and physical powers--from reasoning, concentration, and memory to strength, stamina, and reaction speed. Indeed, he says, it's not only morally defensible to enhance ourselves; in some cases, it's morally obligatory. In a new preface, Harris offers a glimpse at the new science and technology to come, equipping readers with the knowledge to assess the ethics and policy dimensions of future forms of human enhancement. (shrink)
This paper identifies human enhancement as one of the most significant areas of bioethical interest in the last twenty years. It discusses in more detail one area, namely moral enhancement, which is generating significant contemporary interest. The author argues that so far from being susceptible to new forms of high tech manipulation, either genetic, chemical, surgical or neurological, the only reliable methods of moral enhancement, either now or for the foreseeable future, are either those that have been in human and (...) animal use for millennia, namely socialization, education and parental supervision or those high tech methods that are general in their application. By that is meant those forms of cognitive enhancement that operate across a wide range of cognitive abilities and do not target specifically ‘ethical’ capacities. The paper analyses the work of some of the leading contemporary advocates of moral enhancement and finds that in so far as they identify moral qualities or moral emotions for enhancement they have little prospect of success. (shrink)
Knowing how to be good, or knowing how to go about trying to be good, is of immense theoretical and practical importance. And what goes for trying to be good oneself, goes also for trying to provide others with ways of being good, and for trying to make them good whether they like it or not. This is what is meant by 'moral enhancement'. John Harris explores the many proposed methodologies or technologies for moral enhancement: traditional ones like good parenting (...) and education; newer ones like chemical or biological intervention; modifying the environment to make bad outcomes of all sorts less likely; experimentation with political and social systems. The issue of whether and to what extent moral enhancement is possible is the subject of this book. (shrink)
Distinguishing “business” concerns from “ethical” values is not only an unfruitful and meaningless task, it is also an impossible endeavor. Nevertheless, fruitless attempts to separate facts from values produce detrimental second-order effects, both for theory and practice, and should therefore be abandoned. We highlight examples of exemplary research that integrate economic and moral considerations, and point the way to a business ethics discipline that breaks new groundby putting ideas and narratives about business together with ideas and narratives about ethics.
Biomedical research is so important that there is a positive moral obligation to pursue it and to participate in itScience is under attack. In Europe, America, and Australasia in particular, scientists are objects of suspicion and are on the defensive.i“Frankenstein science”5–8 is a phrase never far from the lips of those who take exception to some aspect of science or indeed some supposed abuse by scientists. We should not, however, forget the powerful obligation there is to undertake, support, and participate (...) in scientific research, particularly biomedical research, and the powerful moral imperative that underpins these obligations. Now it is more imperative than ever to articulate and explain these obligations and to do so is the subject and the object of this paper.Let me present the question in its starkest form: is there a moral obligation to undertake, support and even to participate in serious scientific research? If there is, does that obligation require not only that beneficial research be undertaken but also that “we”, as individuals and “we” as societies be willing to support and even participate in research where necessary?Thus far the overwhelming answer given to this question has been “no”, and research has almost universally been treated with suspicion and even hostility by the vast majority of all those concerned with the ethics and regulation of research. The so called “precautionary approach”9 sums up this attitude, requiring dangers to be considered more likely and more serious than benefits, and assuming that no sane person would or should participate in research unless they had a pressing personal reason for so doing, or unless they were motivated by a totally impersonal altruism. International agreements and protocols—for example, the Declaration of Helsinki10 and the CIOMS Guidelines11—have been directed principally at …. (shrink)
Two genetic technologies capable of making heritable changes to the human genome have revived interest in, and in some quarters a very familiar panic concerning, so-called germline interventions. These technologies are: most recently the use of CRISPR/Cas9 to edit genes in non-viable IVF zygotes and Mitochondrial Replacement Therapy the use of which was approved in principle in a landmark vote earlier this year by the United Kingdom Parliament. The possibility of using either of these techniques in humans has encountered the (...) most violent hostility and suspicion. However it is important to be aware that much of this hostility dates back to the fears associated with In Vitro Fertilization and other reproductive technologies and by cloning; fears which were baseless at the time concerning both IVF and cloning the use of both of which have proved to be highly beneficial to humanity and which have been effectively regulated and controlled. This paper argues that CRISPR should by pursued through res.. (shrink)
Since the birth of the first test-tube baby, Louise Brown, in 1977, we have seen truly remarkable advances in biotechnology. We can now screen the fetus for Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, and a wide range of genetic disorders. We can rearrange genes in DNA chains and redirect the evolution of species. We can record an individual's genetic fingerprint. And we can potentially insert genes into human DNA that will produce physical warning signs of cancer, allowing early detection. In fact, biotechnology (...) has progressed to such a point that virtually any kind of genetic manipulation, if not already possible, is just around the corner. But these breakthroughs also raise serious ethical and moral dilemmas that we are only now beginning to confront. In Wonderwoman and Superman, noted medical ethicist John Harris offers the first thorough analysis of the moral dilemmas created by the revolution in molecular biology. Covering a wide array of recent innovations, Harris discusses, for example, the moral decisions involved and the consequences of creating egg and embryo banks. Who should be allowed to use such resources? Should recipients be screened? Should such banks be open for public or private use? And does it cheapen life to make embryos available for sale? In another chapter, Harris examines the question of conceiving children chiefly for organ donation, focusing on the recent case of a woman who wanted to have a second child to provide a bone marrow donor for her first child sick with leukemia (she intended to abort the fetus if its bone marrow did not genetically match that of her living child). In this case, the medical staff had to decide whether they should perform in-vitro fertilization, knowing that the mother did not satisfy the clinic's criteria (there was no father), and also knowing the potential for abortion. Discussing the ethics of the mother's choice and the clinic's choice, Harris asks whether it is morally correct to create a child as an organ donor, whether the future child would suffer, whether it is worth any suffering to be born, and who has the right to weigh the various factors (both moral and physiological) involved in making these decisions. Delving into a multitude of issues such as when life begins, when suffering is needless, and whether we should play God, Wonderwoman and Superman provides not only a thought-provoking inquiry into the potential and actual ethical dilemmas created by the many advances in biotechnology, but challenges us to learn to choose responsibly and to face the moral implications of the choices that confront us. (shrink)
The eighteenth century was a time of brilliant philosophical innovation in Britain. In Of Liberty and Necessity James A. Harris presents the first comprehensive account of the period's discussion of what remains a central problem of philosophy, the question of the freedom of the will. He offers new interpretations of contributions to the free will debate made by canonical figures such as Locke, Hume, Edwards, and Reid, and also discusses in detail the arguments of some less familiar writers. Harris puts (...) the eighteenth-century debate about the will and its freedom in the context of the period's concern with applying what Hume calls the "experimental method of reasoning" to the human mind. His book will be of substantial interest to historians of philosophy and anyone concerned with the free will problem. (shrink)
This paper argues that the Quality Adjusted Life Year or QALY is fatally flawed as a way of priority setting in health care and of dealing with the problem of scarce resources. In addition to showing why this is so the paper sets out a view of the moral constraints that govern the allocation of health resources and suggests reasons for a new attitude to the health budget.
In this issue of CQ we introduce a new feature, in which noted bioethicists are invited to reflect on vital current issues. Our first invitee, John Harris, will subsequently assume editorship of this section.
Recent breakthroughs in stem cell differentiation and reprogramming suggest that functional human gametes could soon be created in vitro. While the ethical debate on the uses of in vitro generated gametes (IVG) was originally constrained by the fact that they could be derived only from embryonic stem cell lines, the advent of somatic cell reprogramming, with the possibility to easily derive human induced pluripotent stem cells from any individual, affords now a major leap in the feasibility of IVG derivation and (...) in the scope of their potential applications. In this paper we develop an ethical framework, rooted in recent scientific evidence, to support a robust experimental pipeline that could enable the first-in-human use of IVG. We then apply this framework to the following objectives: (1) a clarification of the genetic parenting options afforded by IVG, along with their ethical underpinnings; (2) a defence of the use of IVG to remedy infertility, broadening their scope to same-sex couples; (3) an assessment of the most far-reaching implications of IVG for multiplex parenting. These include, first, the liberation of parenting roles from the constraints of biological generations in vivo, allowing multiple individuals to engage in genetic parenting together, thus blurring the distinction between biological and social generations. Second, we discuss the conflation of IVG with sequencing technology and its implications for the possibility that prospective parents may choose among a hitherto unprecedented number of potential children. In view of these perspectives, we argue that, contrary to the exhausted paradigm according to which society lags behind science, IVG may represent instead a salient and most visible instance where biotechnological ingenuity could be used in pursuit of social experimentation. (shrink)
This editorial to the special issue addresses the often overlooked question of the ethical nature of social enterprises. The emerging social entrepreneurship literature has previously been dominated by enthusiasts who fail to critique the social enterprise, focusing instead on its distinction from economic entrepreneurship and potential in solving social problems. In this respect, we have found through the work presented herein that the relation between social entrepreneurship and ethics needs to be problematized. Further, we find that a range of conceptual (...) lenses and methodological approaches is valuable as the social entrepreneurship field matures. (shrink)
This study examines the ethical values of respondents by level in the organizational hierarchy of a single firm. It also explores the possible impacts of gender, education and years of experience on respondents' values as well as their perceptions of how the organization and professional associations influence their personal values. Results showed that, although there were differences in individuals' ethical values by hierarchical level, significantly more differences were observed by the length of tenure with the organization. While respondents, as a (...) whole, were rather ambivalent in their perception of the organization's and professional associations' influence on their values, sales/service persons frequently felt pressured to modify their values in order to achieve company goals. (shrink)
Moral enhancement is a topic that has sparked much current interest in the world of bioethics. The possibility of making people ‘better,’ not just in the conventional enhancement sense of improving health and other desirable qualities and capacities, but by making them somehow more moral, more decent, altogether better people, has attracted attention from both advocates 1 2 and sceptics 3 alike. The concept of moral enhancement, however, is fraught with difficult questions, theoretical and practical. What does it actually mean (...) to be ‘more moral’? How would moral enhancement be defined and would it necessarily, as some have claimed, make the world a better or safer place? How would or could such enhancement be achieved safely and without undue constraint on personal liberty and autonomy? On this subject, a recent paper by Crockett et al 4 investigating the effects of the neurotransmitter serotonin on moral decision-making provides an intriguing scientific basis for examining what might or might not constitute moral enhancement. The study involved treatment with citalopram, a drug that increases the action of serotonin in the brain, and subsequent analysis of participants' decision-making behaviour in two different situations involving moral dilemmas: the well-known ‘Trolley Problem’ 5 and the ‘Ultimatum Game’. 6 The researchers found that citalopram promoted what they call ‘prosocial behaviour’, increasing the participants' aversion to causing direct harm to others: in the first scenario, they were less likely to select the option that required killing one in order to save five, and in the second, less likely to reject unfair offers at the expense of others. The Crockett study is fascinating both for its insight into human behaviour and because it appears to demonstrate that, at least on some accounts of moral behaviour, serotonin may in fact be a …. (shrink)
Cloning - few words have as much potential to grip our imagination or grab the headlines. No longer the stuff of science fiction or Star Wars - it is happening now. Yet human cloning is currently banned throughout the world, and therapeutic cloning banned in many countries. In this highly controversial book, John Harris does a lot more than ask why we are so afraid of cloning. He presents a deft and informed defence of human cloning, carefully exposing the rhetorical (...) and highly dubious arguments against it. He begins with an introduction to what a human clone is, before tackling some of the most common and frequently bizarre criticisms of cloning: Is it really wicked? Can we regulate it? What about the welfare of cloned children? Does it turn human beings into commodities? Dismissing one by one some of the myths about human cloning, in particular that it is degrading and unsafe, he astutely argues that some of our most cherished values, such as the freedom to start a family and the freedom from state control, actually support the case for human cloning. Offering a brave and lucid insight into this ethical minefield, John Harris at last shows that far from ending the diversity of human life or creating a race of super-clones, cloning has the power to improve and heal human life. (shrink)
The continuing debate between Persson and Savulescu and myself over moral enhancement concerns two dimensions of a very large question. The large question is: what exactly makes something a moral enhancement? This large question needs a book length study and this I provide in my How to be Good, Oxford 2016.. In their latest paper Moral Bioenhancement, Freedom and Reason take my book as their point of departure and the first dimension of the big question they address is one that (...) emphasizes a distinction, not highlighted in their original 2008 paper, between a moral enhancement that will ensure an improvement in morality and one that will simply make people more motivated to be moral. The second issue concerns whether anything that would be a “moral enhancement” properly so called, could involve denying moral agents the very possibility of autonomously choosing to try to be good. In this response, although P&S cover a number of other related issues, I shall concentrate on these two points. (shrink)
My critics in this symposium illustrate one principle and three fallacies of disability studies. The principle, which we all share, is that all persons are equal and none are less equal than others. No disability, however slight, nor however severe, implies lesser moral, political or ethical status, worth or value. This is a version of the principle of equality. The three fallacies exhibited by some or all of my critics are the following: Choosing to repair damage or dysfunction or to (...) enhance function, implies either that the previous state is intolerable or that the person in that state is of lesser value or indicates that the individual in that state has a life that is not worthwhile or not thoroughly worth living. None of these implications hold. Exercising choice in reproduction with the aim of producing children who will be either less damaged or diseased, or more healthy, or who will have enhanced capacities, violates the principle or equality. It does not. Disability or impairment must be defined relative either to normalcy, “normal species functioning”, or “species typical functioning”. It is not necessarily so defined. (shrink)
People have a powerful interest in geneticprivacy and its associated claim to ignorance,and some equally powerful desires to beshielded from disturbing information are oftenvoiced. We argue, however, that there is nosuch thing as a right to remain in ignorance,where a right is understood as an entitlementthat trumps competing claims. This doesnot of course mean that information must alwaysbe forced upon unwilling recipients, only thatthere is no prima facie entitlement to beprotected from true or honest information aboutoneself. Any claims to be (...) shielded frominformation about the self must compete onequal terms with claims based in the rights andinterests of others. In balancing the weightand importance of rival considerations aboutgiving or withholding information, if rightsclaims have any place, rights are more likelyto be defensible on the side of honestcommunication of information rather than indefence of ignorance. The right to free speechand the right to decline to acceptresponsibility to take decisions for othersimposed by those others seem to us moreplausible candidates for fully fledged rightsin this field than any purported right toignorance. Finally, and most importantly, ifthe right to autonomy is invoked, a properunderstanding of the distinction between claimsto liberty and claims to autonomy show that theprinciple of autonomy, as it is understood incontemporary social ethics and English law,supports the giving rather than the withholdingof information in most circumstances. (shrink)
Is there such a thing as a social conception of disability? Recently two writers in this journal have suggested not only that there is a coherent social conception of disability but that all non-social conceptions, or “medical models” of disability are fatally flawed. One serious and worrying dimension of their claims is that once the social dimensions of disability have been resolved no seriously “disabling” features remain. This paper examines and rejects conceptions of disability based on social factors but notes (...) that physical and mental conditions which disadvantage the individual have social dimensions. (shrink)
The task of combatting and defeating Covid-19 calls for drastic measures as well as cool heads. It also requires that we keep our nerve and our moral integrity. In the fight for survival, as individuals and as societies, we must not lose our grip on the values and the compassion that make individual and collective survival worth fighting for, or indeed worth having.1.
We argue in this essay that (1) the embryo is an irredeemably ambiguous entity and its ambiguity casts serious doubt on the arguments claiming its full protection or, at least, its protection against its use as a means fo research, (2) those who claim the embryo should be protected as "one of us" are committed to a position even they do not uphold in their practices, (3) views that defend the protection of the embryo in virtue of its potentiality to (...) become a person fail, and (4) the embryo does not have any rights or interests to be protected. Given that many are willing to treat the embryo as a means in other practices, and that human embryonic stem cell (hESC) research holds the potential to benefit many people, one cannot but conclude that hESC research is permissible and, because of its immense promise for alleviating human even obligatory. (shrink)
Cadaver organs should be automatically availableThe shortage of donor organs and tissue for transplantation constitutes an acute emergency which demands radical rethinking of our policies and radical measures. While estimates vary and are difficult to arrive at there is no doubt that the donor organ shortage costs literally hundreds of thousands of lives every year. “In the world as a whole there are an estimated 700 000 patients on dialysis . . .. In India alone 100 000 new patients present (...) with kidney failure each year” . Almost “three million Americans suffer from congestive heart failure . . . deaths related to this condition are estimated at 250 000 each year . . . 27 000 patients die annually from liver disease . . .. In Western Europe as a whole 40 000 patients await a kidney but only . . . 10 000 kidneys”1 become available. Nobody knows how many people fail to make it onto the waiting lists and fail to register in the statistics. “As of 24th November 2002 in the United Kingdom 667 people have donated organs, 2055 people have received transplants, and 5615 people are still awaiting transplants.”2Conscious of the terrible and unnecessary tragedy that figures like these represent I have been advocating for more than 20 years now some radical measures to stem this appalling waste of human life. The measure which is the subject of Hamer and Rivlin’s paper 3 concerns the automatic availability of all cadaver organs—a measure, which I first advocated publicly in 1983.4THE AUTOMATIC AVAILABILITY OF DONOR ORGANSWe need to begin by being clear about just what it is I propose and why. At the moment in the United Kingdom we …. (shrink)
This paper discusses the role of consent in decision making generally and its role in end of life decisions in particular. It outlines a conception of autonomy which explains and justifies the role of consent in decision making and criticises some misapplications of the idea of consent, particular the role of fictitious or “proxy” consents.Where the inevitable outcome of a decision must be that a human individual will die and where that individual is a person who can consent, then that (...) decision is ethical if and only if the individual consents. In very rare and extreme cases such a decision will be ethical in the absence of consent where it would be massively cruel not to end life in order to prevent suffering which is in no other way preventable.Where, however, the human individual is not a person, as is the case with abortion, the death of infants like Mary , or in the very rare and extreme cases of those who have ceased to be persons like Tony Bland, such decisions are governed by the ethics of ending the lives of non-persons. (shrink)
In his ‘Moral Enhancement, Freedom, and What We Value in Moral Behaviour’,1 David DeGrazia sets out to defend moral bioenhancement from a number of critics, me prominently among them. Here he sets out his stall: "Many scholars doubt what I assert: that there is nothing inherently wrong with MB. Some doubt this on the basis of a conviction that there is something inherently wrong with biomedical enhancement technologies in general. Chief among their objections are the charges that biomedical enhancement is (...) unnatural, use of biomedical enhancements evinces an insufficient appreciation for human “giftedness”, and biomedical enhancements pose a threat to personal identity. Elsewhere I have attempted to neutralize these objections. Here I will address a set of concerns that are directed at MB in particular and appeal to the nature and value of human freedom."Let me make clear at once that I do not believe there is anything inherently wrong with MB. I have been an advocate for human enhancement for over 30 years writing four books defending such enhancements.2–⇓4 The most recent of these published in 2007 covers much the same ground as Allen Buchanan's 2011 book cited by DeGrazia,5 but, unlike Buchanan, I do not define enhancements in terms of the intention or the motivation of those who produce them but rather in terms of their effect. I must also make clear that, like DeGrazia, I have also, for a very long time, attempted to neutralise objections 1–3 listed in the above passage.2–⇓4DeGrazia introduces his critique of my approach like this: "I will construe Harris’ argument and similar arguments as directed entirely at motivation-based MB—though I will hereafter omit the qualifier, “motivation-based.” (Certainly, these arguments do not apply to embryo selection, which … ". (shrink)
Much earlier work claims that appositives and expressives are invariably speaker-oriented. These claims have recently been challenged, most extensively by Amaral et al. (Linguist and Philos 30(6): 707–749, 2007). We are convinced by this new evidence. The questions we address are (i) how widespread are non-speaker-oriented readings of appositives and expressives, and (ii) what are the underlying linguistic factors that make such readings available? We present two experiments and novel corpus work that bear directly on this issue. We find that (...) non-speaker-oriented readings, while rare in actual language use, are systematic. We also find that non-speaker-oriented readings occur even outside of attitude predications, which leads us to favor an account based in pragmatically-mediated perspective shifting over one that relies on semantic binding by attitude predicates. (shrink)
The ethical implications of human clones have been much alluded to, but have seldom been examined with any rigour. This paper examines the possible uses and abuses of human cloning and draws out the principal ethical dimensions, both of what might be done and its meaning. The paper examines some of the major public and official responses to cloning by authorities such as President Clinton, the World Health Organisation, the European parliament, UNESCO, and others and reveals their inadequacies as foundations (...) for a coherent public policy on human cloning. The paper ends by defending a conception of reproductive rights of "procreative autonomy" which shows human cloning to be not inconsistent with human rights and dignity. (shrink)
Intuitionists and classical logicians use in common a large number of the logical axioms, even though they supposedly mean different things by the logical connectives and quantifiers — conquans for short. But Wittgenstein says The meaning of a word is its use in the language. We prove that in a definite sense the intuitionistic axioms do indeed characterize the logical conquans, both for the intuitionist and the classical logician.
This paper argues that a precautionary approach to scientific progress of the sort advocated by Walter Glannon with respect to life-extending therapies involves both incoherence and irresolvable paradox. This paper demonstrates the incoherence of the precautionary approach in many circumstances and argues that with respect to life-extending therapies we have at present no persuasive reasons for a moratorium on such research.
: The concept of the person has come to be intimately connected with questions about the value of life. It is applied to those sorts of beings who have some special value or moral importance and where we need to prioritize the needs or claims of different sorts of individuals. "Person" is a concept designating individuals like us in some important respects, but possibly including individuals who are very unlike us in other respects. What are these respects and why are (...) they important? This paper sets out to answer these questions and to develop a coherent and useful concept of the person. (shrink)
I broadly explore the question by examining several common criticisms of CEO pay through both philosophical and empirical lenses. While some criticisms appear to be unfounded, the analysis shows not only that current compensation practices are problematic both from the standpoint of distributive justice and fairness, but also that incentive pay ultimately exacerbates the very agency problem it is purported to solve.
Human rights are universally acknowledged to be important, although they are, of course, by no means universally respected. This universality has helped to combat racism and sexism and other arbitrary and vicious forms of discrimination. Unfortunately, as we shall see, the universality of human rights is both too universal and not universal enough. It is time to take the “human” out of human rights. Indeed, it is very probable that in the future there will be no more humans as we (...) know them now, because the further evolution of our species, either Darwinian or more likely determined by human choices, will, we must hope, result in the emergence of new sorts of beings better able to cope with the intellectual and physical challenges of the future. One example of the ways in which this is already happening is the sorts of cognitive enhancement that are already coming on stream. Another is signaled by stem cell research and the birth of regenerative medicine. (shrink)
The prospect of using genome technologies to modify the human germline has raised profound moral disagreement but also emphasizes the need for wide-ranging discussion and a well-informed policy response. The Hinxton Group brought together scientists, ethicists, policymakers, and journal editors for an international, interdisciplinary meeting on this subject. This consensus statement formulated by the group calls for support of genome editing research and the development of a scientific roadmap for safety and efficacy; recognizes the ethical challenges involved in clinical reproductive (...) applications of genome editing but, importantly, rejects the idea that human reproductive germline modification is necessarily morally unacceptable; and highlights the importance of meaningful engagement in discussions of genome editing and the development of regulation and oversight mechanisms to govern future uses of such technologies. (shrink)
When philosophers put forward claims for or against 'property', it is often unclear whether they are talking about the same thing that lawyers mean by 'property'. Likewise, when lawyers appeal to 'justice' in interpreting or criticizing legal rules we do not know if they have in mind something that philosophers would recognize as 'justice'. J. W. Harris here examines the legal and philosophical underpinnings of the concept of property and offers a new analytical framework for understanding property and justice.