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Bioethics

Transhumanism and the Perfection Imperative

E. Christian Brugger is a Senior Fellow of Ethics at the Culture of Life Foundation. In a recent interview with Zenit, he spoke on the bioethics of the philosophy of "transhumanism." 

In October 2004 the bimonthly magazine Foreign Policy published a special report with the title, The World's Most Dangerous Ideas. Eight prominent thinkers were asked to reply to the question: "What ideas, if embraced, would pose the greatest threat to the welfare of humanity?" Francis Fukuyama responded with an essay entitled "Transhumanism." By "transhumanism" he was referring to a current of thought, gaining prominence in the past fifteen years, committed to using science and technology to transcend the limitations of human nature. Scientific research traditionally has striven to overcome the effects of human disease and degenerative illnesses -- purposes broadly therapeutic in nature. Transhumanism aims to move beyond therapy to enhancement. "Its proponents," to quote one advocate, "argue for a future of ageless bodies, transcendent experiences, and extraordinary minds."

The moral considerations of biotechnology are fascinating - hence the genre of books and movies toying with the concept. But sci-fi often becomes reality over time - far less time than we sometimes imagine. While most biomedical treatments are still therapeutic, some enhancements are already among us: vaccines, for example, do not remedy existing illness but empower the body to resist the onset of diseases to which humans are naturally susceptible. Supply and demand will ultimately dictate that women (or petri dishes, as the case may be) are treated with an embryonic wash to ensure the newly-conceived cell-cluster / baby is afforded an equal chance in the world (i.e., increased mental and physical attributes). Couple this with biotechnology to improve the senses and, eventually, mental capacity, and Superman will begin looking a bit more average (minus the flying bit, of course). 

The question is whether there will come a time when we will simply cease to be human, as the term is presently understood - and whether there is a moral quality to the decision to effectively end the human race.

Categories > Bioethics

Discussions - 9 Comments

Liberals already have us there. We are no longer on the slippery slop on the topic of abortion. We are at the bottom and liberals have us working our way to the pit of hell. One only has to read the outrageous medical paper written by Drs. (of all people) Giubilini and Minerva for the Australian Journal of Medical Ethics who adovacate in this paper "after birth abortion". Let us now take a trip back to the 1970's and listen to liberals spew lies along the lines of abortion will be safe and limited. Yeah right and Barack Obama is the most intelligent president ever. Pro-lifers predicted that abortion would lead to applying the arguments in favor of abortion to those of newborns, the disabled and elderly. Okay the million dollar questions: Who was right here - of course the Pro Lifers.

Of course abortion does have an upside. Abortion is more often the choice of liberal women,liberal women like Sandra "the slut" Fluke who unlike Sarah Palin who Bill Maher calls a c$unt would abort their Down Syndrome Baby and be given an Academy Award by whackjob Andrew Sullivan. This means that liberals are killing off their population. Faster please.

We selectively breed animals all the time, and is a purebred German Shepard not a dog? I'm not saying that it's a good thing to do because selective breeding can cause all sorts of troubles generations down the road, but it's not like you completely eradicate a species.

Prenatal testing isn't going away, and I have yet to see any empirical data that shows that large percentages of people are using it unethically.

Natural selection is a beautiful thing. Controlled selection is also a beautiful thing much of the time, but it does carry risks that we probably aren't aware of, and may not ultimately care for.

We offer you order. Can you not see this? Can you not see our superior intellects mean we should rule?

"The question is whether there will come a time when we will simply cease to be human, as the term is presently understood - and whether there is a moral quality to the decision to effectively end the human race."

I think this question is closer to the actual spirit/logic of Roe v. Wade, than the premise of the ethicists you claimed were adopting it.

Namely the logic is one that suggests the difficulty in thinking about change over time or how a thing can have incompatible properties and yet remain the same thing.

The confusion may even be at the heart of the rejection of Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney ceased being conservative when Obama adopted RomneyCare, revelations that he worked to expand the zone of possible agreement by suggesting such a policy to Obama, also seems damning, this is still a topic of scholarly dispute, and only the meanest of pranksters doubt his humaness. But, interestingly enough when Ron Paul confronted Santorum, his reaction was to associate conservatism with being human..."I am real man", followed by touching his arm.

In any case it might seem that the most likely transhumanists would be Romney's heirs. No one knows how far into the future voters project fears, a topic also related to consideration of incompatible properties of the present in the future, aided and abeted in part by a logic that considers forecasting a present reality.

The first applications of transhumanism might be in presidencies, or CEO board rooms, the CIA or the FBI. On the other hand I am hesitant to say these folks will cease to be human. They may not be perceived as having or stiring up the same levels of empathy....

That being said just as I believe Roe has drawn a line on abortion reflecting a moral sense of this difference over time, and one that contra Justin and Cowgirl has mostly been pushed back with notions of viability... (In other words our view of when humaness begins has expanded, not contracted.) It is important to me at least that abortion is no longer a fundamental right, and that in many cases it requires some serious informed consent barriers.

I think that likewise our view of when humaness ends will likely expand and not contract. It is possible that for Santorum voters the test on whether or not they can come to love Mitt, suggests the highest point of resistance in society at large to Transhumanism.

The poor and middle class who have rooted a sense of self in church and community, and consistently voted against economic self interest, and thus cannot accept a Mitt associated with Bain capital and the destruction of jobs which supported the old middle class notion of human being. Something about Santorum just feels like the death of an entire moral paradigm.

So Mitt Romney is just a resitance point along the road to transhumanism. Especially since in part, no one who lives in Ohio and voted for Santorum, shares this expectation of living forever or being augmented to super human intelligence. It is the heirs of Romney, who by abolition of the death tax, and a general disregard for the notion of barganning power, or the principle of equality who will be able to launch us down a path of trickle down transhumanism.

Note also Obama's focus upon "empathy" as a requirement for judges. Empathy I think is the quality of feeling that someone else is human.

So both the idea of when humaness begins and when humaness ends is a question of Empathy, or a question of what your view of human being is rooted in.

Cowgirl wrote:
"Of course abortion does have an upside. Abortion is more often the choice of liberal women,liberal women like Sandra "the slut" Fluke who unlike Sarah Palin who Bill Maher calls a c$unt would abort their Down Syndrome Baby and be given an Academy Award by whackjob Andrew Sullivan. This means that liberals are killing off their population. Faster please."

And there you have it - the Honest, Principled Conservative position on the issue. Don't forget to defend her (by no means call her out on it!) - after all, she hates liberals (you know, the usual bit: They're destroying America, liberalism is a mental disease, California is The Stupid State since so many liberals are there, etc., etc.) and is a proud conservative.

I stated facts. More abortions are the choice (remember Pumpkin your side is the one screaming about abortion being a choice) of liberal women than conservative women. That is just a fact Pumpkin, one that is indisputable.

Sandra Fluke would be an example of a liberal woman who would most likely abort her child than say a conservative woman like Sarah Palin who would choose to keep her Down Syndrome Child. Indisputable fact.

Bill Maher has called Sarah Palin a c$nt among other vile things. Andrew Sullivan is obessed with Sarah Palin, her gentials and her down syndrome baby boy who happens to be the cutest kid around. Just read Sullivan's archives on Sarah Palin. Indisputable fact.

California is the Stupid State. The liberals there keep voting into the office the same people, Jerry Brown, who caused the problems in California in the first place. California is a financial mess along with a failed experiment in socialism. The Stupid State will run out of other people's money by the end of this month. When something is broken and you keep doing the same thing over and over again to fix it and it doesn't get fixed - that equals mental illness. Indisputable fact.

Let's have some more facts. I am 100% percent against what liberals call a "choice". I call it the murdering and slaughtering of unborn children. But, if liberals want it to be a choice and not a child and want to abort their babies left and right, then there is no much anyone can do about it. So have at it. But see Pumpkin, actions have consequences. Killing off liberals is consequence of liberal's actions called abortion.

Calling the murder and slaugher of unborn children a "choice", well Pumpkin, that is mental illness.

You said that abortion has an "upside" because (so say you, with zero evidence provided) more liberals have abortions.

You said that "This means that liberals are killing off their population. Faster please."

By any reasonable reading of your words, that must mean that you actually like some abortions - those that could serve to fulfill your eliminationist fantasies - and that you want them to continue, at a quicker pace.

That would seem to compromise your declaration of being "100% percent against" abortion.

(Commence your standard logical contortions.)

I don't think many here got the reference.

Of course Jonah Goldberg is big on Star Trek references, and has been known to frequent this blog....................

It's actually more subtle than that. How will the Progressives compete against the Nietzscheans, having established the paradigm that innate natural ability shall rule?

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