TED Conversations

Janelle Pidwanski

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Is human enhancement a natural part of human evolution, or is it fundamentally in violation of human dignity?

Should we use current technologies to overcome human physical and cognitive limitations?
The concern is that these technologies can be used in ways that will radically alter the human form.
There are three positions: bioliberalism, bioconservatism, and transhumanism
Criticisms and Defences according to James Moor:
1. Coercive eugenics
2. Socioeconomics divide
Is there a fair distribution between the enhanced and unenhanced?
3. Dehumanization
4. Risks and policy

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    Jun 17 2012: Interesting question, Janelle. Several issues stand out here. At the heart of them, though, is the question: what would it be except natural? There might be an argument that it furthers some natural goals or principles at the expense of others, but unless we're going to try to shore up some sort of scaffolding for a supernatural context of meaning, then yes, it's natural. It is no different than the hermit crab moving to a new shell.

    As for the question of human dignity, a similar concern would apply—namely, compared to what standard? It seems to me that there's a pretty good case for saying that not upgrading would be at least as much (if not more) of a contradiction of our fundamental drives.

    Once we have that kind of playing field in place, then we are in a position to talk about your issues 1-4 in scientific terms from biological to sociological as far as the possible costs and benefits to individual and social progress, stability, and so on.