Danaher_ An Evaluative Conservative Case for Biomedical Enhancement.pdf

Danaher_ An Evaluative Conservative Case for Biomedical Enhancement.pdf

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An evaluative conservative case for biomedical enhancement John Danaher Correspondence to Dr John Danaher, School of Law, NUI Galway, University Road, Galway, Ireland; [email protected] Received 11 December 2015 Revised 12 May 2016 Accepted 7 June 2016 Published Online First 27 June 2016 To cite: Danaher J. J Med Ethics 2016; 42 :611 618. ABSTRACT It is widely believed that a conservative moral outlook is opposed to biomedical forms of human enhancement. In this paper, I argue that this widespread belief is incorrect. Using Cohen s evaluative conservatism as my starting point, I argue that there are strong conservative reasons to prioritise the development of biomedical enhancements. In particular, I suggest that biomedical enhancement may be essential if we are to maintain our current evaluative equilibrium (ie, the set of values that undergird and permeate our current political, economic and personal lives) against the threats to that equilibrium posed by external, non-biomedical forms of enhancement. I defend this view against modest conservatives who insist that biomedical enhancements pose a greater risk to our current evaluative equilibrium, and against those who see no principled distinction between the forms of human enhancement. INTRODUCTION Conservatives like things the way they are; enhancement technologies allow us to change them. It is no surprise then that there is a wide- spread belief that conservative moral principles lead to the rejection of human enhancement. In this article, I argue that this widespread belief is wrong in a number of critical respects. I argue that the promotion of biomedical human enhancement could be crucial if we are to conserve our current evaluative equilibrium against an array of techno- logical threats. I defend this argument in four parts. First, I situate my argument within both the conser- vative moral tradition and the enhancement debate. Second, I present and clarify the argument itself. Third, I defend the central premise of the argu- ment, noting three speci fi c ways in which biomed- ical enhancement could help to preserve our current evaluative equilibrium. And fi nally, I respond to six objections to this argument. ENHANCEMENT AND EVALUATIVE CONSERVATISM It is important to clarify the style of conservatism adopted throughout the remainder of the article and to explain how the argument I defend is situ- ated relative to other, somewhat similar, arguments. Conservatism is a rich philosophical tradition. My argument draws on a thin, but core, version of this tradition. The version has two components: an evaluative one and an epistemic one. The evaluative component maintains that we should seek to hold onto or preserve existing sources of value even if we are promised newer better sources of value in their stead . This evaluative conservatism is taken from the work of Jerry Cohen.
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  • Spring '19
  • Transhumanism, Emerging technologies, Human enhancement, Danaher

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