Lecture 12 (Wednesday, November 28, 2012) – Human Enhancement
Objections to Human Enhancement
Economy, sports, justice system, etc.
Pay for only the rich?
3. Human identity
Identity – Based Objections
Biotechnical enhancements violates core characteristics
Biotechnical enhancement is inauthentic
In seeking by these biotechnological means to be better than we are or to like ourselves better than we
are or to like ourselves better than we do, we risk ‘turning into someone else,’ confounding the id we
have acquired through natural gifts cultivated by genetic experiences
Enhancement Versus Treatment
What is the difference between medical treatment and medical enhancement?
Example ▯Ritalin (ADHD versus studying)
The difference seems to turn on a conception of normalcy
Treatment = if you are under the medically accepted threshold, then the medicine is used to bring you
back to the threshold
Enhancement = already above threshold, use to boost
Are there any problems with using normalcy to distinguish treatment from enhancement?
What is normal? ▯hard to define
Example ▯normal intelligence?
Is there such thing as normal?
Graduated conception of normalcy
1 Lecture 12 (Wednesday, November 28, 2012) – Human Enhancement
Two people can be classified as the same class of normal but be very different
Natural Versus Biotechnical Enhancement
Natural enhancement = developing natural faculties through own efforts
How natural is natural?
Example ▯gyms are human creations
Biotechnical enhancement = developing or altering faculties through genetic, pharmacological,
cybernetic or surgical means
Natural enhancement is typically praiseworthy
Biotechnically enhancements are often thought to be objectionable or disturbing
Example ▯cosmetic surgery
Michael Sandel (1953)
Benefice, justice, autonomy, non – maleficence
Appeal to traditional principles to solve medical issues
The Case Against Perfection
We typically resolve biomedical issues by appealing to autonomy, justice, beneficence, or non –
These standards do not work very well when it comes to human enhancements
Example ▯cloning fits all the traditional points but is objectionable
There really is something wrong with human enhancement
Human enhancement destroys our appreciation of the gifted character of human power and
2 Lecture 12 (Wednesday, November 28, 2012) – Human Enhancement
Traditional Objections To Enhancement
It is unfair to individuals
It will create an underclass of citizens
It is self – defeating
It is discriminatory
Biotechnical Enhancement is Unfair
Enhanced individuals have an unfair advantage over un – augmented individuals
This criticism is particularly obvious when it comes to sports
Example ▯Schwarzenegger Mice (muscle enhancement), might mice (good at running) (eat 60% more
food – produce no lactic acid by only burning fat, extremely aggressive though)
Should biotechnical methods of enhancement be permitted in professional sports?
No because it is unfair
The problem with this objection is that we already allow genetic advantage in sports (one born with
genetic advantage, one engineered)
Biotechnical Enhancement Will Create a Social Underclass
Biotechnical enhancement has the potential to create a genuine biological basis for social inequality
Social or economic basis for inequality versus biological basis for inequality
Example ▯cognitive memory enhancement
High level career ▯needs superior cognition ▯those positions could be dominated by a certain class of
Should biotechnologies that enhance a person’s cognitive abilities beyond what is normal be
No because it could create two classes in our society
This objection misses the point
If the technology was made available to everyone, would it be okay? (political solution)
Biotechnical Enhancement is Self – Defeating
3 Lecture 12 (Wednesday, November 28, 2012) – Human Enhancement
People do not just want to be better in an absolute sense, they want to be better than everyone else
This advantage vanishes if everyone is enhanced
Human growth hormones
Should these hormones be used to enhance the height of people who do not suffer from a hormone
No because if everyone does it, it is self – defeating
Can’t have a society where everyone is taller than average
Real issue ▯do we really want to live in a world where parents feel compelled to enhance the height
of their children?
Biotechnical “Enhancement” Is Discriminatory
Is there a problem with allowing parents to select the sex of their children?
Yes because it is discriminatory and it leads to social imbalance
But there are political solutions to these problems
The gifted character of human action