What Is Human Enhancement?

Once we know what we need to do, our nanotechnologies should enable us to construct replacement bodies and brains that won't be constrained to work at the crawling pace of "real time." The events in our computer chips already happen millions of times faster than those in brain cells. Hence, we could design our "mind-children" to think a million times faster than we do. To such a being, half a minute might seem as long as one of our years, and each hour as long as an entire human lifetime.

- Marvin Minsky, Will Robots Inherit the Earth? (1994)

Podcast of the Day

Pints and Philosophical Problems with Matthew Sweet. This week, should we take a pill that would make us less racist and less aggressive? In the snug with Matthew is philosopher Julian Savulescu.

Listen to The Philosopher's Arms episode on Enhancement

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

Neuro-scientific research is rapidly expanding our knowledge of how we can alter brain function – for better or for ill. Most of this research is motivated by a desire to cure disease or to slow down normal age-related decline, of course. But some of it seems to hold out the hope of improving function in the already well-functioning brain. We might be able to enhance attention, for instance, or working memory, mathematical ability and even our capacity to reason morally.

Some people welcome this prospect, while others fear it. Critics worry it threatens our sense of self, our authenticity, and that it might lead to a neglect of our proper attitude to nature and alter society in unexpected and unwelcome ways...

Continue reading Neil Levy's article: Common drugs can affect our minds and morals – but should we be worried about it?

Further Reading

At first glance there does not seem to be anything philosophically problematic about human enhancement. Activities such as physical fitness routines, wearing eyeglasses, taking music lessons and prayer are routinely utilized for the goal of enhancing human capacities. This entry is not concerned with every activity and intervention that might improve people’s embodied lives. The focus of this entry is a cluster of debates in practical ethics that is conventionally labeled as “the ethics of human enhancement”. These debates include clinicians’ concerns about the limits of legitimate health care, parents’ worries about their reproductive and rearing obligations, and the efforts of competitive institutions like sports to combat cheating, as well as more general questions about distributive justice, science policy, and the public regulation of medical technologies...

Continue reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Human Enhancement by Juengst & Moseley

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