Book

Unfit for the Future

Ingmar Persson and Julian Savulescu

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199653645
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191742033 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199653645.001.0001
Unfit for the Future

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Most of their history human beings have lived in comparatively small and close‐knit societies, with a primitive technology that allowed them to affect only their most immediate environment. Their moral psychology is therefore adpated to make them fit to live in these conditions; it is myopic, restricted to a concern about kin and people in the neighbourhood in the immediate future. But by scientific technology humans have radically changed their living conditions, while their moral psychology has remained fundamentally the same through this change, which is occurring with an accelerating speed. Human beings now live in societies with millions of citizens, and with an advanced scientific technology that enables them to exercise an influence that extends all over the world and far into the future. This is leading to increasing environmental degradation and to deleterious climate change. The advanced scientific technology has also equipped human beings with nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction, which might be used by states in wars over dwindling natural resources, or by terrorists. Liberal democracies cannot overcome these threats merely by developing novel technology. What is needed is an enhancement of the moral dispositions of their citizens, an extension of their moral concern beyond a small circle of personal acquaintances and further into the future. Otherwise, human civilization is jeopardized. It is doubtful whether this moral enhancement could be accomplished solely by means of traditional moral education. Therefore, we should explore, in addition, the prospects of moral enhancement by alternative, biomedical means.

Keywords: climate change; environmental degradation; liberal democracy; moral enhancement; moral psychology; scientific technology; weapons of mass destruction

Book.  160 pages. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Unfit for the Future

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Liberal Democracy in Unfit for the Future

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Catastrophic Misuses of Science in Unfit for the Future

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Responsibility for Omissions in Unfit for the Future

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The Tragedy of the Commons in Unfit for the Future

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Authoritarianism and Democracy in Unfit for the Future

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