1st Edition

Dialogues on Human Enhancement

By Nicholas Agar Copyright 2024
    234 Pages
    by Routledge

    234 Pages
    by Routledge

    We face an emerging range of technologies that can be applied to our human natures with the goal of enhancing us. There are nootropic smart drugs and gene editing that influence the development of the brain. The near future promises cybernetic technologies that can be grafted onto our brains and bodies. The challenge for readers of Dialogues on Human Enhancement is to decide how to respond to these and other coming enhancement technologies.

    As you read these dialogues you will meet passionate advocates for a variety of responses to enhancement tech, ranging from blanket rejection to ecstatic endorsement. You’ll encounter Olen, for whom there is no such thing as too much enhancement. You’ll meet Winston, a bioconservative who fiercely but also imaginatively opposes any human enhancement. And there is the moderate Eugenie, who strives to distinguish between enhancement technologies that should and should not be accepted. As these characters philosophically engage with each other they will benefit from the supervisory presence of Sophie, the philosopher.

    Dialogues on Human Enhancement does not arrive at a single conclusion. Olen’s transhumanism, Eugenie’s moderation, and Winston’s bioconservatism are presented as viable and necessary views as we enter a future made uncertain by human enhancement tech.

    And the book also welcomes the voices of students, even – and especially – if they challenge the opinions of our age’s experts. As students join the conversations in this book, they will formulate their own views about how humanity could or should be in our Age of Human Enhancement.

    Foreword by Michael Hauskeller

    Night 1: What should we say about gene-edited twins who may have been enhanced?
    The He Jiankui affair
    The importance of being reasonable about an essentially uncertain future
    Doing philosophy in the Metaverse!

    Night 2: Enhancement technologies, doping athletes, and the meaning of human enhancement
    What are enhancement technologies?
    What does it mean to be enhanced?
    Did Ben Johnson really cheat at the 1988 Seoul Olympics?
    Who – or what – is the world’s best chess player
    The morally problematic nature of Sophie’s insulin pump
    Moving on

    Night 3: From Francis Galton’s eugenics to liberal eugenics
    Francis Galton and eugenics
    The ethical fix of "liberal" eugenics
    A thought experiment involving an enhanced Himmler
    What is procreative liberty?
    How the liberal state can prevent morally bad procreative choices
    Habermas responds to liberal eugenics
    Do we need enhancement tech risk pioneers?
    Is human enhancement a threat to equality?
    Will human enhancement end sex?
    Is liberal eugenics just shit stirring?

    Day 4: Radical versus moderate enhancement and cognition
    A radically enhanced humanity remade by tech?
    Differences between liberal eugenics and radical enhancement
    Radical human enhancement clarified
    Should we become posthuman?
    What is exponential technological progress?
    Can we have radically enhanced cognitive powers?
    Will our quest to become a spacefaring species turn us into clouds of nanabots?

    Night 5: SENS and radical life extension
    Radically extended life spans
    Can SENS make humans negligibly senescent?
    Might SENS actually slow progress toward an enhanced future?
    Do we need to escape human biology if we are going to live to be 969?
    The choice between moderate and radical enhancement
    Why advocates of moderate enhancement might prefer gene editing to enhancement by digital tech

    Night 6: Enhanced moods and morality
    Happy-People-Pills For All?
    Can we achieve radically enhanced happiness?
    Can we control exponentially improving digital technologies?

    Night 7: How do we decide which aspects of human nature to preserve?
    The meaning of the luddites
    Should we fix gorillas’ problems by uplifting them?
    What would we do to avoid extinction?
    Should we want the things we believe our radically enhanced future selves might want?
    Do philosophers’ thought experiments about the future encourage recklessness?
    From surveillance capitalism to enhancement capitalism?
    Philosophical uncertainty about what it means to be human

    Night 8: A species relativist rejection of radical enhancement
    Is radical enhancement a transformative change?
    Could you take a pill that made you a racist?
    A kind of species relativism?

    Night 9: Three contrasting nightmares about the Age of Human Enhancement
    Three year 2100 human enhancement what-ifs


    Nicholas Agar is Professor of Ethics at the University of Waikato in Aotearoa, New Zealand. He has written extensively on the philosophical debate about human enhancement including three books on the topic – Liberal Eugenics (2004), Humanity’s End (2010), and Truly Human Enhancement (2013).