The Relevance of Value Theory for the Ethical Discussion of Human Enhancement

The Relevance of Value Theory for the Ethical Discussion of Human Enhancement

Tobias Hainz (Hannover Medical School, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6122-6.ch002
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Abstract

The aim of this chapter is to provide a practical introduction to the central issues of value theory in order to demonstrate their relevance for the ethical discussion of human enhancement technologies. Among the value-theoretical issues discussed are value lexicality, the monism-pluralism dichotomy, and incommensurability. A particular enhancement technology analyzed from a value-theoretical perspective is radical life extension, the direct and intentional extension of the maximum human life span. Several examples are given to show how value-theoretical concepts are implicitly reflected in arguments for and against human enhancement. At the end of the chapter, it should be clear that value theory can and should make stronger contributions to the ethical discussion of human enhancement and that, in this discussion, an increased awareness of value-theoretical issues is desirable.
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Value Theory And Human Enhancement: An Overview

Since this article will not deal with controversies within value theory but with its possible application to the ethical analysis of human enhancement, it seems advisable to provide a mostly general perspective on those value-theoretical issues that are of importance for the aim of this article without actually arguing for or against a specific position on a controversial issue. This background section will, therefore, neglect controversial debates within value theory that would deserve a separate analysis. Instead, it will provide a general overview of value theory in order to enhance the understanding of the relevant issues and their location within the value-theoretical landscape. This overview of central topics in value theory will necessarily be selective and non-exhaustive. Its purpose is to give the reader an impression of which issues value theory is concerned with and to introduce the topics that will later be revisited when the applicability of value theory to the ethical discussion of human enhancement will be demonstrated. Furthermore, a similar overview of human enhancement will be included in this section. The purpose of this overview will be to clarify how to conceive of human enhancement.

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