Transhumanism and Its Critics: Five Arguments against a Posthuman Future

Transhumanism and Its Critics: Five Arguments against a Posthuman Future

Keith A. Bauer (Jefferson College of Health Sciences, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1773-5.ch018
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Abstract

Transhumanism is a social, technological, political, and philosophical movement that advocates the transformation of human nature by means of pharmacology, genetic manipulation, cybernetic modification, nanotechnology, and a host of other technologies. The aim of this movement is to increase physical and sensory abilities, augment intelligence and memory, and extend lifespan. After providing some background on transhumanism, its philosophical heritage, and its goals, the author looks at three arguments against transhumanism, arguing that they are unpersuasive and should be rejected. This paper presents two arguments against transhumanism that have merit. The first argument is an argument from justice that addresses the distribution of benefits and burdens for funding, developing, and employing enhancement technology. The second argument examines a significant assumption held by many transhumanists, namely, that there is an essential “human nature” that can be transcended.
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Introduction: Technoethics And Transhumanism

Technoethics is an intellectually broad and multi-professional field of study that is intentionally unrestricted to the examination of just one kind of technology, a singular profession, or particular ethical issue. Technoethicists are interested in the plethora of overlapping ethical and social issues found in, for example, computer ethics, engineering ethics, military ethics, bioethics, environmental ethics, nanoethics, and neuroethics. More generally, technoethicists are eager to explore the ever-changing relationships among humans and technology (e.g., ethical implications for life, social norms and values, education and work, politics and law, and the environment) that no one field of applied ethics can capture (Luppicini & Adell, 2008).

Specialization, of course, has its merits, but can lead to disparate and isolated silos of inquiry. This is particularly true when dealing with a highly faceted subject such as transhumanism. As a movement, transhumanism is “ecumenical,” transcending professional affiliations and encompassing the broad and diverse use of technology. Transhumanists fully understand that we are in a new era of technologic convergence that will change human life as we know it. Technoethicists understand this as well (Roco & Bainbridge, 2002). For these reasons, the field of technoethics—its diversity of topics, disciplines, and research methodologies—is well situated to explore transhumanism as it should be explored.

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