A Better Path to Enhancement? -Stacey Broom

A Better Path to Enhancement?

PhD Thesis Abstract:

The way that bioethicists use the term ‘human enhancement’ is far from clear.  Much work needs to be done to ensure that those within the enhancement debate are not letting discussions slip by them because they are lacking a shared definition.  Some bioethicists, such as Julian Savulescu and John Harris, tell us that we should enhance ourselves and our children, because it is the good and the right thing to do.  Others, such as Leon Kass and Michael Sandel, believe that enhancing, in the ways espoused by the likes of Savulescu and Harris, is not the good and the right thing to do, because there could be detrimental consequences.  In the first part of this thesis, the concept of human enhancement will be examined with regard to how it is used by these four key commentators.  It is argued that enhancement is a slippery notion, which needs to be handled with a great deal of care – more care than is shown by the main figures in the debate.  The second part of this thesis focuses on the assumption that enhancement is inherently good.  Within this part, it is argued that defining enhancement in terms of ‘good’ is a tricky philosophical move.  Furthermore, given the propensity to misconstrue one’s aims, and the potential to misrecognise one’s true self, radical human enhancement cannot be the way to a good life.  The thesis concludes that to live a good life, we must recognise and be content with our potential.  We must also learn to appreciate and revere life, and be active in our pursuit of happiness.  It is only through action that we will flourish, and thus be enhanced.

Stacey Broom

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