Tuesday, April 21

Human Enhancement

This week’s group is presenting on human enhancement. I don’t really know where they are going with it, but I for one have not found a real reason not to pursue or implement these technologies. All the cons I have read on the subject seem to be scare tactics, or problems that can be addressed and fixed if openly discussed.

We fear the unknown. It is my belief that science has been pushing humanity forward throughout history and the technologies used in human enhancement are no different. Hundreds of years ago Galileo was persecuted for going against the geocentric belief that was popular at the time. Now we know that the sun is the center of our universe, not the earth. With this basic discovery we have been able to unlock many mysteries of our universe. What new things could we discover if we pursue the technologies used in human enhancement? More importantly, what will not be discovered if we choose not to pursue these technologies? I think that the pros of these technologies outweigh the cons.

If you want to read some good articles in favor of human enhancement visit Nick Bostrom’s web page: http://www.nickbostrom.com/


  1. While I can definitely see that human enhancement; for the most part, can lead to positive outcomes, I do see an argument that can be made to over-enhancement or pursuing too much. This argument leads me back to our discussion of the Kitcher book discussing the pursuit of certain lines of research. In that discussion, we came to conclusion that there are certain lines of research that should not necessarily be pursued. These lines being those that negatively affect people or add no additional positive outcomes to life. I feel that this argument can be made against certain lines of human enhancement, in someway. I'm not sure where the discussion will lead us tonight, but I am eager to hear the alternative arguments to this subject.

  2. I agree with Casey. I think that there can be many beneficial outcomes to human enhancement, such as the prosthetic limbs and dietary supplements mentioned in one of the readings. The whole debate of whether the enhancement is "natural" is intriguing to me. It seems like there is a stigma attached to anything that is artificially created for human enhancement. Why should something that is "unnatural" be unethical? If it benefits someone and doesn't interfere with the health of others, then why is there question of ethics? Should be some good discussions in class on this topic!

  3. Human Enhancement is a tricky subject; one that I have had very little success in coming to a decision on whether or not it is a good thing. I can easily see the arguments in favor of it. How through advances in medicine and other technologies our individual lives have been made safer, healthier, and longer. The proponents of human enhancement say that if we can take these advances further we can continue to improve upon the human condition. However, it is this point in particular that does not sit well with me. Can we ever really improve our lives through technology and physical modification alone? A very strong instinct in me says 'NO!' It has been cited in a number of psychological journals that despite the fact that we can live longer, safer, healthier lives in general people are more unhappy. Despite the fact that the wealth of information and progress available at our fingertips, more people lead lives that in their own opinions are unsatisfactory and unfulfilled. Is it then necessarily the case that we must pursue enhancements so we may be able to achieve lives worth living, or would this only be an extension of a miserable existence? In my opinion we need to find more answers on what it means to be human and what a good and/or natural life entails, before we go about seeking to further alter and extend that life, lest we merely be avoiding an escape from a miserable life that only death can offer.

  4. I think viewing the critics against enhancements as "scare tactics" is only one of two possibilities. The second is that they are expressing genuine fear and concern. After reading Fukuyama's book I think the latter is true, although I agree with you that much of it is unfounded. I think proponents are better off giving the critics the benefit of the doubt and assuming that they are expressing genuine fear until evidence shows otherwise. If they are just dismissed as being manipulative then we aren't working to reach a consensus; it is just politics by brute force. On the other hand, if proponents accept that their fear might be genuine, and dialogue with them to understand their assumptions and rationale they might be able to convince them that some of their fears are unfounded or perhaps unlikely.


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