Moral Status 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

Moral Status and Enhancement

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This chapter addresses a cluster of concerns that revolve around a fundamental, but obscure concept that lies at the heart of moral theory: moral status. The distinction is made between the claim that biomedical enhancements could eventually produce post-humans (beings of a different species than Homo sapiens) and the quite different claim that they could produce post-persons—beings with a higher status than that of persons. It argues that the concerns that enhancements may render the concept of human rights obsolete have either failed to distinguish between post-humans and post-persons or have misunderstood what human rights are. Finally, it argues that even if there is little risk that enhancement will produce a morally-bifurcated world of persons and post-persons, it could produce challenges to equality that cut deeper than the familiar worry about exacerbating existing unjust distributions of resources.

Keywords: biomedical enhancement; equality; human rights; justice; Kantian ethics; moral status; post-persons; utilitarianism

Chapter.  13246 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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