Conservatism and Enhancement

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

Conservatism and Enhancement

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This chapter explores the possibility that mainstream traditional conservative thought in the tradition of Edmund Burke provides a better vantage point from which to argue against the enhancement project, than the work of contemporary conservative bioethicists such as Fukuyama, Sandel, and Kass. It argues that mainstream traditional conservative thought provides no conclusive reasons against pursuing the enhancement project and—surprisingly—supplies a powerful reason in favor of pursuing it. A central conservative thesis is that human nature includes cognitive imperfections that doom efforts to achieve large-scale improvements in the human condition. This thesis speaks strongly in favor of enhancement, if these cognitive imperfections may be safely ameliorated through the use of biotechnologies. At present, there is no good reason to conclude that our cognitive imperfections are so severe as to rule out our significantly ameliorating them.

Keywords: biomedical enhancement; Burke; conservatism; evolution; evolutionary psychology; human nature

Chapter.  10776 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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