Explaining away the conviction that human enhancement is morally wrong: status quo bias and the affect heuristic
Stephen Clarke (Charles Sturt University)

September 24, 2014, 11:00am - 12:30pm
SHAPS, Philosophy, University of Melbourne

142A (Old Quad)
Old Quad Building, University of Melbourne Campus



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Many people are convinced that attempts to enhance human beings – to increase our physical and mental capacities above the normal upper limits for our species – are somehow immoral. However, they are notoriously unable to offer precise reasoning to justify this conviction.  In light of this inability it is not surprising that advocates of human enhancement have tried to away the common conviction that human enhancement is morally wrong. Bostrom and Ord (2006) try to explain away this conviction by appealing to pervasive status quo bias. I won’t dispute the claim that status quo bias is pervasive, but I’ll argue that it cannot be appealed to to successfully explain away the conviction that human enhancement is morally wrong. I’ll then outline another approach to explaining away this conviction, which draws on the ‘affect heuristic’.

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