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Beyond Therapy v. Enhancement?
di Federica Lucivero, Anton Vedder
edito da Pisa University Press
The debate on the ethical, social and legal impacts of technologies enhancing human capabilities has been largely fed by philosophy and ethics scholars. These contributions offer arguments in favour or against the use and
distribution of more or less specific types of enhancing technologies. Since authors’ positions drastically vary from ‘trans-‘ or ‘post-‘ humanist claims about the desirability of these technologies to ‘conservative’ views opposed
to those technologies and showing their dangers and perils, this debate is often heated and confused. The distinction between therapy and enhancement itself is exemplary in this respect. The distinction is often not meant to merely serve the theoretical purpose of creating definitional clarity; it is also often implicitly used to depict one class of actions as morally unproblematic(therapy) and another class of actions as morally problematic (enhance-
ment). The debate on human enhancement is not only a matter of philosophical concern but it is also a hot topic in public and political discussions, with an increasing demand of European institutions for grounded recommendation concerning policies and governance of technologies for human enhancement. Therefore, on the one hand, we have a heated debate that is a core interest of political institutions and, on the other hand, we have little reflection on the terms and concepts of this debate. This volume aims to fill
this gap by providing analysis and clarification of the main trends, concepts, and assumptions of the debate. The essays in this volume examine the debate from a meta-level, analysing the discussion and mapping its arguments and conclusions, shedding new light on the traditional distinctions and assumptions in the debate on human enhancement from different disciplinary perspectives: law, ethics, philosophy of technology, science and technology
studies, social sciences, engineering science, technology assessment and general regulation studies. This volume is one of the results of the project Regulating Emerging Technologies in Europe: Robotics Facing Law and Ethics (RoboLaw), funded under the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission, and building on the results of a workshop that took place in November 2012 at the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society of Tilburg University, the Netherlands.
Enhancement and the vulnerable body 17 If we consider the discourse on radical human enhancement and in particular the public and academic debates about this issue, we see that these debates are typically polarized between rather radical “pro” and “contra” positions, in particular between “transhumanists” and “bioconservatives”. The first wish to change humans and human nature; the latter wish to keep humans and human nature as they are.
This paper clarifies some of the stakes in the debate by articulating and discussing some important philosophical assumptions that are shared by both positions, in particular four theoretical and normative assumptions about the human body, about history, about vulnerability, and about the relations between bodies, vulnerability and technology. In addition, I show that there is space for a third, alternative and nuanced, meta-position that overcomes the polarization in the debate.
2. First assumption: The human body as “robot” body The first a...
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