"Buchanan on the conservative argument against human enhancement from biological and social harmony"
Dr Steve Clarke (Oxford University), Dr Steve Clarke (Oxford University)

April 4, 2014, 3:00pm - 4:30pm
Department of philosophy, Australian Catholic University

250 Victoria Pde East Melb
Melbourne
Australia

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In his recent Beyond Humanity? (2011), Allen Buchanan takes issue with a slew of arguments against human enhancement put forward by prominent conservative intellectuals. For the most part I find Buchanan’s dissection of conservative opposition to human enhancement to be very persuasive. In this paper I want to discuss Buchanan’s treatment of the conservative line of argument against human enhancement ‘from biological and social harmony’ (Buchanan 2011, pp. 161-2). In my view this line of argument against human enhancement has much more going for it than Buchanan allows. I will not argue that it is a strong enough to warrant the banning of the use of all human enhancement technologies, as many conservatives (and some liberals) might urge, but I will argue that it gives us reason to be very cautious about the widespread adoption of particular human enhancements. I will also demonstrate that there is nothing distinctively conservative about this line of argument. It deserves to be taken seriously by both liberals and conservatives.

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