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De verbeterkunde, een ongewenste bevrijding?

Pieter Bonte (UGent)
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Abstract
As the reach of medical technology continues to expand, not only the goal of healing is being reached but beyond that the enhancement of the human body and mind also becomes a reality. Examples can be found in advanced prostheses, neurofarmaceuticals, genetic technologies and other fields. The ethical value of this enhancement medicine is being debated fiercly. Often the debate takes the form of a so-called ‘bio-conservative’ stance as opposed to a ‘transhumanist’ position. Transhumanists argue for the fundamental right to ‘morphological freedom’: every individual has, in principle, the right to determine for himself the shape and functions of his own body and every intrusion on this fundamental right – the blanket prohibition on any kind of enhancement medicine being the prime example hereof – has to be accompanied by strong ethical or societal arguments. Bioconservatives often argue precisely for such a general and universal prohibition, often based on intrinsic ethical arguments concerning the goodness of human nature and the unacceptability to freely alter this nature, even if such a choice is based on the sincere personal wish of an informed and socially responsible individual. I focus on these intrinsic arguments concerning the goodness of enhancement. I analyse the bioconservative arguments to conclude that they are incoherent and sometimes even internally inconsistent. Blindness for the responsibility of non-intervention plays a key role here. Furthermore I argue that the fundamental right to morphological freedom should logically be protected in any liberal democratic ethical theory. None the less, as the biological mold of human nature becomes a field of our own cultural agency, our natural passions dissolve as a source of spontaneous motivation. Thus the reality of ever-deepening morphological freedom confronts us with a new existential shock which has not yet been brought into clear focus and which poses a profound challenge for much of modern day discourse on motivation and choice.

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Bonte, Pieter. 2008. “De Verbeterkunde, Een Ongewenste Bevrijding?” Ethiek & Maatschappij (2): 18–35.
APA
Bonte, P. (2008). De verbeterkunde, een ongewenste bevrijding? ETHIEK & MAATSCHAPPIJ, (2), 18–35.
Vancouver
1.
Bonte P. De verbeterkunde, een ongewenste bevrijding? ETHIEK & MAATSCHAPPIJ. 2008;(2):18–35.
MLA
Bonte, Pieter. “De Verbeterkunde, Een Ongewenste Bevrijding?” ETHIEK & MAATSCHAPPIJ 2 (2008): 18–35. Print.
@article{1048706,
  abstract     = {As the reach of medical technology continues to expand, not only the goal of healing is being reached but beyond that the enhancement of the human body and mind also becomes a reality. Examples can be found in advanced prostheses, neurofarmaceuticals, genetic technologies and other fields. The ethical value of this enhancement medicine is being debated fiercly. Often the debate takes the form of a so-called {\textquoteleft}bio-conservative{\textquoteright} stance as opposed to a {\textquoteleft}transhumanist{\textquoteright} position. Transhumanists argue for the fundamental right to {\textquoteleft}morphological freedom{\textquoteright}: every individual has, in principle, the right to determine for himself the shape and functions of his own body and every intrusion on this fundamental right -- the blanket prohibition on any kind of enhancement medicine being the prime example hereof -- has to be accompanied by strong ethical or societal arguments. Bioconservatives often argue precisely for such a general and universal prohibition, often based on intrinsic ethical arguments concerning the goodness of human nature and the unacceptability to freely alter this nature, even if such a choice is based on the sincere personal wish of an informed and socially responsible individual. I focus on these intrinsic arguments concerning the goodness of enhancement. I analyse the bioconservative arguments to conclude that they are incoherent and sometimes even internally inconsistent. Blindness for the responsibility of non-intervention plays a key role here. Furthermore I argue that the fundamental right to morphological freedom should logically be protected in any liberal democratic ethical theory. None the less, as the biological mold of human nature becomes a field of our own cultural agency, our natural passions dissolve as a source of spontaneous motivation. Thus the reality of ever-deepening morphological freedom confronts us with a new existential shock which has not yet been brought into clear focus and which poses a profound challenge for much of modern day discourse on motivation and choice.},
  author       = {Bonte, Pieter},
  issn         = {1373-0975},
  journal      = {ETHIEK \& MAATSCHAPPIJ},
  language     = {dut},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {18--35},
  title        = {De verbeterkunde, een ongewenste bevrijding?},
  year         = {2008},
}