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Promises and perils of emerging technologies for human condition

Voices from four postcommunist Central and East European countries

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Edited By Peter Sýkora

Emerging technologies are defined as fast-growing radically novel technologies with an estimated prominent impact on human society in the future. The ambiguity and uncertainty of emerging technologies at the same time raise techno-optimistic expectations, as well as serious worries about possible unwanted and unpredicted negative consequences following their introduction into wider practice. And because of their radical novelty, emerging technologies also challenge various traditional philosophical and ethical concepts, established risk assessment methods, science and technology governance and policies, science to public communication and practices within and outside the medical domain. The aim of this volume is to present the view of ten authors from four postcommunist Central and East European countries (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Latvia) on emerging technologies and human enhancement. They analyse the topic from various perspectives: anthropological, ethical, philosophical, ontological, empirical, and legal. A variety of views will contribute to a development of the discourse on technology assessment in their countries, help to make the process of national policy and law formation more active and less “mimetic”, and open the national discourses to international discussion and critical analysis.

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Chap. 8. Attitudes to progressive gene therapies in Slovakia in the light of the ethical dimensions of human enhancement

Chapter 8

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Gabriel Bianchi



Abstract: The chapter attempts to bring more understanding into the diversity and dynamics of attitudes to progressive therapies within the broader ethical context of human enhancement. Results from the empirical study in Slovakia are discussed within the frameworks of diverse ethical dimensions of human enhancement (F. Allhoff), ethno-epistemic assemblages as well as of scientific citizenship (A. Irwin, M. Michael). The study (a qualitative exploration in twelve focus group discussions) was comparing attitudes to three different levels of gene therapy (gene scan, somatic gene therapy and germline gene therapy) in general public and in patients with experience of implants and other progressive therapies. The results confirm previous findings of a decreasing support with the increasing technical and ethical requirements of the particular level of gene therapy. A surprising effect was, however, found: personal/bodily experience with progressive therapy may facilitate more positive attitudes and acceptance of the higher-level therapies, while making people more cautious towards the lover levels of gene therapy. The chapter points to a need for transcendence of negativism and affirmative approach to human enhancement challenges (R. Braidotti).

“Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is” (Camus, 1951, p.11). Since the early beginnings of human evolution, we homo sapiens have permanently transcended the limits of our ability. Whether we are talking about fire, the wheel, navigation, electricity or computers, the final outcome is always the enhancement of our intellectual capacities. Recently enhancement has become the focus of attention....

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