Friday, April 8, 2011

Human enhancement technologies are nothing new: It’s what humans do

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Below is a "teaser" from an article by Kristi Scott posted on the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET) website: Human enhancement technologies are nothing new: It’s what humans do

Phillip Brey wrote an article titled “Human Enhancement and Personal Identity” that was published as a chapter in the book New Waves in Philosophy of Technology. This is my critique of Brey’s ideas.

In his article, Brey seeks to make an argument that medicine should expand their foci from just health and therapy to include research on human enhancement effects and implementation of those enhancements. He makes his case that there should be extensive trials in medical research and policy. While I agree with him to some extent, I think that throughout the piece he has overlooked, or did not include here, human enhancement technologies (HETs) throughout history and the way they have been handled for better or worse.

Therefore, while I agree that we need to explore the social implications, I think that to strengthen Brey’s argument there should be more inclusion and acknowledgement of the past to build up the logical reasons to shift the medical foci of the present or future. Consider questions such as, have we extensively done what he is calling for with other human enhancement technologies?

For example, with the introduction of birth control, which gave us control over our reproductive capabilities, did we analyze all the possible social effects that came with this? Did we hold off on our ability to enhance our reproductive systems based on similar types of research? Why or why not? How did this effect implementation of these technologies? How could it have been done better?

This is of particular interest when he asks the same of HETs and holds them to this standard because of the change in the methodological approach to enhancements, as I will discuss. He says that, “Human enhancement should then be carefully regulated based on the outcomes of such assessments.” There is an element of control here that he thinks medicine should have in the area of human enhancements that has/is not currently done with such rigor.

Continued. Read the entire article: Human enhancement technologies are nothing new: It’s what humans do


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