Enhancing Human Traits: Ethical and Social Implications

Enhancing Human Traits: Ethical and Social Implications

by Erik Parens
     
 

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In this volume, scholars from philosophy, sociology, history, theology, women’s studies, and law explore the looming ethical and social implications of new biotechnologies that are rapidly making it possible to enhance an individual’s mental and physical attributes in ways previously only imagined.

To clarify the issues, the contributors grapple with

Overview

In this volume, scholars from philosophy, sociology, history, theology, women’s studies, and law explore the looming ethical and social implications of new biotechnologies that are rapidly making it possible to enhance an individual’s mental and physical attributes in ways previously only imagined.

To clarify the issues, the contributors grapple with the central concept of "enhancement" and probe the uses and abuses of the term. Focusing in particular on the moral issues pertaining to cosmetic surgery and cosmetic psychopharmacology (a category which includes Prozac), they also examine notions of identity, authenticity, normality, and complicity. Other essays in this collection address the social ramifications of the new technologies, including the problems of access and fairness.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Are enhancement technologies a good thing? We regard self-development through education and exercise a virtue, almost a duty. Why not pursue these ends by means of enhancement technologies?... Enhancing Human Traits represents a landmark in the discussion of these thorny issues....I predict that this book will open a debate that will play a significant role in shaping our culture in the years to come." -- Nature

"Coherently organized, Enhancing Human Traits provides a useful set of perspectives for framing ethical, social, and policy questions in what will continue to be a controversial area of medicine." -- Choice

"[A] timely and important book....the essays in this volume represent cutting-edge work on an important topic for bioethics." -- Bioethics

"Recommended to the increasing number of physicians who have a strong commitment to biomedical ethics." -- New England Journal of Medicine

Nature

Are enhancement technologies a good thing? We regard self-development through education and exercise a virtue, almost a duty. Why not pursue these ends by means of enhancement technologies? . . . Enhancing Human Traits represents a landmark in the discussion of these thorny issues. . . . I predict that this book will open a debate that will play a significant role in shaping our culture in the years to come.

Choice

Coherently organized, Enhancing Human Traits provides a useful set of perspectives for framing ethical, social, and policy questions in what will continue to be a controversial area of medicine.

Bioethics

A timely and important book. . . . The essays in this volume represent cutting-edge work on an important topic for bioethics.

New England Journal of Medicine

Recommended to the increasing number of physicians who have a strong commitment to biomedical ethics.

3 Stars from Doody
Andrea Bonnicksen
Experts in philosophy, sociology, history, theology, women's studies, and the law explore the meanings and difficulties of conversing about enhancement biotechnologies (e.g., germ-line genetics, cosmetic surgery, psychopharmacology) and ask whether there are good reasons to worry about these technologies. The essayists originally took part in the enhancement project sponsored by the Hasting Center. This book is written to examine and clarify the enhancement concept, assess whether enhancement biotechnologies are worrisome, and explore the implications of enhancement biotechnologies for policymaking. These objectives are worthy in their capacity to contribute to thoughtful policymaking. They direct attention to the concept of enhancement, which is often used in conversations but not systematically examined, and to a range of enhancement technologies. The editor meets these objectives by presenting thoughtful essays about a number of enhancement technologies from a variety of academic perspectives. He reveals the difficulties of using unchallenged concepts to frame public policy. The book is intended for policymakers, academics, philosophers, medical practitioners, and others interested in enhancement biotechnologies and what to think about them. The editor and contributors are well-recognized authorities. Essayists Erik Parens, Eric Juengst, and Daniel Brock helpfully set out distinctions and suggest ways of identifying issues relating to the enhancement concept. The essays that follow, most of which are gracefully written, effectively cover a range of enhancements. Occasional interchanges among authors who refer to companion essays help integrate and unify the book. A range ofenhancement biotechnologies are covered in this one volume and contributors explore in a quizzical rather than dogmatic way the problematic features of the enhancement concept as a stepping stone for future policy. They offer fresh perspectives of respected authors, who seem to be energized about the topic after working face to face with one another at the Hastings Center meetings.
Booknews
Scholars from fields including philosophy, sociology, history, theology, women's studies, and law explore ethical and social implications of new biotechnologies ranging from genetic manipulation to pharmacology and new surgical techniques. They identify the difficulty in distinguishing between treatment and enhancement, focusing in particular on moral issues pertaining to cosmetic surgery and cosmetic psychopharmacology. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Andrea Bonnicksen(Northern Illinois University)
Description: Experts in philosophy, sociology, history, theology, women's studies, and the law explore the meanings and difficulties of conversing about enhancement biotechnologies (e.g., germ-line genetics, cosmetic surgery, psychopharmacology) and ask whether there are good reasons to worry about these technologies. The essayists originally took part in the enhancement project sponsored by the Hasting Center.
Purpose: This book is written to examine and clarify the enhancement concept, assess whether enhancement biotechnologies are worrisome, and explore the implications of enhancement biotechnologies for policymaking. These objectives are worthy in their capacity to contribute to thoughtful policymaking. They direct attention to the concept of enhancement, which is often used in conversations but not systematically examined, and to a range of enhancement technologies. The editor meets these objectives by presenting thoughtful essays about a number of enhancement technologies from a variety of academic perspectives. He reveals the difficulties of using unchallenged concepts to frame public policy.
Audience: The book is intended for policymakers, academics, philosophers, medical practitioners, and others interested in enhancement biotechnologies and what to think about them. The editor and contributors are well-recognized authorities.
Features: Essayists Erik Parens, Eric Juengst, and Daniel Brock helpfully set out distinctions and suggest ways of identifying issues relating to the enhancement concept. The essays that follow, most of which are gracefully written, effectively cover a range of enhancements. Occasional interchanges among authors who refer to companion essays help integrate and unify the book.
Assessment: A range of enhancement biotechnologies are covered in this one volume and contributors explore in a quizzical rather than dogmatic way the problematic features of the enhancement concept as a stepping stone for future policy. They offer fresh perspectives of respected authors, who seem to be energized about the topic after working face to face with one another at the Hastings Center meetings.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780878407804
Publisher:
Georgetown University Press
Publication date:
01/28/2000
Series:
Hastings Center Studies in Ethics Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.61(d)

Meet the Author

Erik Parens is the associate for philosophical studies at The Hastings Center.

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