- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (January 7, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199594961
- ISBN-13: 978-0199594962
- Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 1 x 6.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,054,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Human Enhancement Reprint Edition
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"As an anthology Human Enhancement is bound to be indispensable for anyone is interested in the subject. This collection of essays could be a beginner's first reference guide to the subject, since all essays are brief, engaging, and focused. At the same time, both advanced students and instructors will find the volume intellectually challenging and rewarding, since the essays reveal the complexity of each angle of enhancement and address these numerous angles in depth. In short, Human Enhancement is a must for anyone who is thinking about the moral status of bioengineering, and bioethics in general." --Metapsychology
About the Author
Julian Savulescu is Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics, Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, and Director of the Program on Ethics and the New Biosciences in the 21st Century School, University of Oxford
Nick Bostrom is Director of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford. He previously taught at Yale University in the Department of Philosophy and in the Yale Institute for Social and Policy Studies.
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Top customer reviews
Anyone interested in the sociological, moral and technological implications of the merge of humans and machines should have a peek at these essays.
I don't know. I do know that the question raised of whether or not we actually know what human nature is in such a definitive way as to be able to enhance it seems to me theoretically overdone. We know enough about our powers to propose very specific 'enhancements' Bostrom speaks about the preference of most people for enhancements which are somehow seen as natural or more in accordance with our nature. He too and others speak about enhancements which might provide a certain risk.There are also questions raised in the book of the 'equality' issue and the kinds of privilege the 'enhanced' might have. It seems to me this book should be of interest to anyone who is concerned about what is presently happening to humanity. There are those who after all believe we will be at the point soon where 'artificial intelligences' somehow go beyond us, and in some way promise to replace us.
Because I agree with most of the arguments for enhancement, I skipped some of the pro-enhancement arguments and tried to read the anti-enhancement arguments carefully. They mostly boil down to the claim that people's preference for natural things is sufficient to justify broad prohibitions on enhancing human bodies and human nature. That isn't enough of an argument to deserve as much discussion as it gets.
A few of the concerns discussed by advocates of enhancement are worth more thought. The question of whether unenhanced humans would retain political equality and rights enables us to imagine dystopian results of enhancement. Daniel Walker provides a partly correct analysis of conditions under which enhanced beings ought to paternalistically restrict the choices and political power of the unenhanced. But he's overly complacent about assuming the paternalists will have the interests of the unenhanced at heart. The biggest problem with paternalism to date is that it's done by people who are less thoughtful about the interests of the people they're controlling than they are about finding ways to serve their own self-interest. It is possible that enhanced beings will be perfect altruists, but it is far from being a natural consequence of enhancement.
The final chapter points out the risks of being overconfident of our ability to improve on nature. They describe questions we should ask about why evolution would have produced a result that is different from what we want. One example that they give suggests they remain overconfident - they repeat a standard claim about the human appendix being a result of evolution getting stuck in a local optimum. Recent evidence suggests that the appendix performs a valuable function in recovery from diarrhea (still a major cause of death in places) and harm from appendicitis seems rare outside of industrialized nations (maybe due to differences in dietary fiber?).
The most new and provocative ideas in the book have little to do with the medical enhancements that the title evokes. Robin Hanson's call for mechanisms to make people more truthful probably won't gather much support, as people are clever about finding objections to any specific method that would be effective. Still, asking the question the way he does may encourage some people to think more clearly about their goals.
Nick Bostrom and Anders Sandberg describe an interesting (original?) hypothesis about why placebos (sometimes) work. It involves signaling that there is relatively little need to conserve the body's resources for fighting future injuries and diseases. Could this understanding lead to insights about how to more directly and reliably trigger this effect? More effective placebos have been proposed. Why is it so unusual to ask about serious research into this subject?