A Brave New World: Understanding the Ethics of Human Enhancement

Written to coincide with the publication of the book The Ethics of Human Enhancement: Understanding the Debate, Steve Clarke's article explores the discussion so far and considers where the debate might head next.

The article was selected to appear in 'The Best of 2016', a special free edition of Australian Quarterly.

Abstract: For the past two decades a debate has raged in academic philosophy and bioethics about the rights and wrongs of using drug therapies, genetic interventions, mechanical augmentation and other medical procedures to enhance human physical and mental capacities above the normal upper limits for our species. Many ‘bio-conservative’ opponents of human enhancement argue that it is morally wrong to alter human nature, to ‘Play God’, or to ‘seek mastery of ourselves’, even if attempts to do so are likely to benefit humanity as a whole.

AQ is published by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science, an independent body which promotes discussion and understanding of political, social and scientific issues in Australia.

Download a PDF of the special edition here.  See pp. 29-33 for Steve's article 'A Brave New World: Understanding the Ethics of Human Enhancement'.  



Ethics of Human Enhancement Book CoverTHE ETHICS OF HUMAN ENHANCEMENT
Understanding the Debate

Edited by Steve Clarke, Julian Savulescu, C.A.J. Coady, Alberto Giubilini, and Sagar Sanyal.


We humans can enhance some of our mental and physical abilities above the normal upper limits for our species with the use of particular drug therapies and medical procedures. We will be able to enhance many more of our abilities in more ways in the near future. Some commentators have welcomed the prospect of wide use of human enhancement technologies, while others have viewed it with alarm, and have made clear that they find human enhancement morally objectionable. The Ethics of Human Enhancement examines whether the reactions can be supported by articulated philosophical reasoning, or perhaps explained in terms of psychological influences on moral reasoning. An international team of ethicists refresh the debate with new ideas and arguments, making connections with scientific research and with related issues in moral philosophy.

  • This volume will refresh and reinvigorate the debate about the ethics of human enhancement
  • Brings together world-leading academics from philosophy and bioethics
  • Advances interdisciplinary scholarship on bioethics
  • Aimed at both academic philosophers and bioethicists
  • Relevant to the regulation of new biotechnologies