The Landscape of the Enhancement Debate

Allen Buchanan

in Beyond Humanity?

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199587810
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191728761 | DOI:

Series: Uehiro Series in Practical Ethics

The Landscape of the Enhancement Debate

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This chapter sketches the landscape of the enhancement debate. It introduces the two most prominent views: the anti-enhancement view—whose proponents include Sandel, Kass, and Fukuyama—and its opposition (the “anti-anti-enhancement” view). It identifies a number of deficiencies in the enhancement debate, including murky rhetoric masquerading as argument, the ignoring of evolutionary biology, unsupported empirical claims, fundamental unclarity in argument, and the inability to get beyond the pros and cons stage of debate. It also previews the book's efforts to correct these deficiencies and improve the quality of the debate. It introduces the book's proposal that one important way to improve the debate is to set aside the unhelpful question “are you for or against enhancement?” Instead the book focuses on the following question: is it ethically permissible for a reasonably liberal and democratic society to embark on the enhancement enterprise (i.e., the endeavor to develop the moral and institutional resources needed to pursue enhancements responsibly)?

Keywords: anti-enhancement; biomedical enhancement; enhancement enterprise; evolutionary biology; Fukuyama; Kass; Sandel

Chapter.  12907 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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