"How Much Human Enhancement is Too Much?"

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Nicholas Agar

(University of Wellington)

"How Much Human Enhancement is Too Much?"

 

Paper presented to the conference:

"Crafting Humans:From Genesis to Eugenics and Beyond"

8-10 September 2011, Queens College, Oxford

 

Second Annual Conference of the Berendel Foundation, in association with the Centre for health Medicine and Society and History of Race and Eugenics Research Group at Oxford Brookes University, the University of Oxford, and the Wellcome Trust

 

Abstract: Those who aspire to radical enhancement seek not just to improve significant attributes and abilities, but to boost them to levels that greatly exceed what is currently possible for human beings. This paper addresses moral and prudential limits on human enhancement. It defends an anthropocentric account of the value of possible experiences. We value possible experiences within and slightly beyond the normal human experiential range because we humans are able to engage with them psychologically. Enhancement emerges as one among many influences directed at human beings that may be acceptable if practiced in moderation, but wrong if taken to extremes. There is an upper limit on the degree of enhancement that it is good for a human being to undergo, an upper limit that radical enhancement would take us beyond.

 

Short Bio: Nicholas Agar is a philosopher who specializes in the ethics of emerging technologies. He is the author of Liberal Eugenics: In Defence of Human Enhancement (2004). His latest book Humanity's End: Why We Should Reject Radical Enhancement (2010) urges caution in respect of a variety of genetic and cybernetic technologies that may soon be used to dramatically extend human life spans and enlarge human intellects.

 

 

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