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The Case for Perfection

Ethics in the Age of Human Enhancement

Johann Roduit

The author critically examines what role the notion of perfection should play in the debate regarding the ethics of human enhancement. He argues that the concept of «human perfection» needs to be central when morally assessing human enhancements. This anthropological ideal provides an additional norm to evaluate enhancing interventions, extending the well-established bioethical principles of autonomy, justice, and safety.
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The debate regarding the ethics of human enhancement is still in its infancy. Issues regarding what exactly constitutes enhancements and how to morally evaluate various human enhancements have not been entirely resolved. This work has provided some additional tools to better understand and approach the debate in the future. As new technologies become available, they will both challenge and likely alter our understanding of what it means to be human.

This research has added to this discussion by showing how the concept of human perfection can be used as an additional normative tool to evaluate the morality of human enhancement. This work has argued that refusing to look at human perfection in this debate would ensure serious shortcomings vis-à-vis the moral evaluation of human enhancement. Instead of trying to altogether avoid or only implicitly refer to perfectionist assumptions, I suggested embracing them and making them explicit. Doing so will better inform other participants in the debate and help them understand the reasons authors think of human enhancement as morally dubious or as morally mandatory.

The main goal of this work was to investigate how the notion of perfection should be used in the debate, if at all. After first showing that the concept of perfection is in itself unavoidable, I then presented some requirements that a conception of perfection should fulfill in order to be of assistance in this debate. I concluded by suggesting a possible conception of perfection, based on the work...

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