Dignity and enhancement

In Adam Schulman (ed.), Human Dignity and Bioethics: Essays Commissioned by the President's Council on Bioethics. [President's Council on Bioethics (2008)
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Abstract

Does human enhancement threaten our dignity as some prominent commentators have asserted? Or could our dignity perhaps be technologically enhanced? After disentangling several different concepts of dignity, this essay focuses on the idea of dignity as a quality, a kind of excellence admitting of degrees and applicable to entities both within and without the human realm. I argue that dignity in this sense interacts with enhancement in complex ways which bring to light some fundamental issues in value theory, and that the effects of any given enhancement must be evaluated in its appropriate empirical context. Yet it is possible that through enhancement we could become better able to appreciate and secure many forms of dignity that are overlooked or missing under current conditions. I also suggest that in a posthuman world, dignity as a quality could grow in importance as an organizing moral/aesthetic idea.

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Nick Bostrom
Oxford University

References found in this work

Two kinds of respect.Stephen L. Darwall - 1977 - Ethics 88 (1):36-49.
Human dignity in bioethics and biolaw.Deryck Beyleveld - 2001 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by Roger Brownsword.
In defense of posthuman dignity.Nick Bostrom - 2005 - Bioethics 19 (3):202–214.

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