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Enhancing Evolution

The Ethical Case for Making Better People

John Harris



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Princeton University Press
17 October 2010
In Enhancing Evolution, leading bioethicist John Harris dismantles objections to genetic engineering, stem-cell research, designer babies, and cloning and makes an ethical case for biotechnology that is both forthright and rigorous. Human enhancement, Harris argues, is a good thing--good morally, good for individuals, good as social policy, and good for a genetic heritage that needs serious improvement. Enhancing Evolution defends biotechnological interventions that could allow us to live longer, healthier, and even happier lives by, for example, providing us with immunity from cancer and HIV/AIDS. Further, Harris champions the possibility of influencing the very course of evolution to give us increased mental and physical powers--from reasoning, concentration, and memory to strength, stamina, and reaction speed. Indeed, he says, it's not only morally defensible to enhance ourselves; in some cases, it's morally obligatory. In a new preface, Harris offers a glimpse at the new science and technology to come, equipping readers with the knowledge to assess the ethics and policy dimensions of future forms of human enhancement.
By:   John Harris
Imprint:   Princeton University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Edition:   Revised edition
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 18mm
Weight:   369g
ISBN:   9780691148168
ISBN 10:   0691148163
Pages:   272
Publication Date:   17 October 2010
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  General/trade ,  Primary ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Preface to the Paperback Edition ix Foreword by Steve Rayner xix Acknowledgments xxv Introduction 1 Chapter 1: Has Humankind a Future? 8 Chapter 2: Enhancement Is a Moral Duty 19 Chapter 3: What Enhancements Are and Why They Matter 36 Chapter 4: Immortality 59 Chapter 5: Reproductive Choice and the Democratic Presumption 72 Chapter 6: Disability and Super-Ability 86 Chapter 7: Perfection and the Blue Guitar 109 Chapter 8: Good and Bad Uses of Technology 123 Chapter 9: Designer Children 143 Chapter 10: The Irredeemable Paradox of the Embryo 160 Chapter 11: The Obligation to Pursue and Participate in Research 184 Notes 207 Bibliography 227 Index 239

John Harris is the Lord David Alliance Professor of Bioethics at the University of Manchester School of Law, joint editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medical Ethics, and a member of Britains Human Genetics Commission. His many books include On Cloning and Clones, Genes, and Immortality .

Reviews for Enhancing Evolution: The Ethical Case for Making Better People

John Harris...assumes not only that biotechnological enhancement is going to happen but that we have a moral obligation to make it happen. --Scientific American This provocative book is a valuable retort to those who would summon the ghost of Frankenstein's monster at the first sight of a test tube. --Stephen Cave, Financial Times A persuasive case that today's biotechnologies...are on the continuum of an age-long pursuit by humans to improve themselves. --Judy Illes, Nature [A] fine contribution to clear thinking and cogent argument in a field where these commodities have been in short supply. --Arthur Schafer, The Globe and Mail [Harris] challenges conventional thinking about genetic engineering, stem-cell research, designer children and other concepts that make most people uneasy. --Richard Halicks, Atlanta Journal-Constitution [Harris] is warmly enthusiastic about the possibilities; moreover he is unshakably convinced that all human beings, given that they are capable of moral sense, have a duty not only to make things better for people, but to make people better as well...It is a pleasure to read a book that is so jolly about the future of mankind. --Mary Warnock, THES Professor Harris uses his philosophical skills very effectively to expose public confusion. --Robin Gill, Church Times [Harris] raises the stakes. Harris argues that humanity has been evolving biologically for millennia, and that those who believe we should forego the opportunity to evolve further through the use of genetic technology are 'making a fetish of a particular evolutionary stage. --Richard Hayes, The American Interest Harris argues that biotechnological enhancements are morally good, a sensible social imperative, and necessary to improve humankind's genetic heritage. He believes people should seek increased powers and longer, healthier lives...He takes on objections to genetic engineering, stem-cell research, and designer babies. Harris's arguments for increased biotechnological intervention for the betterment of human life, though controversial, cannot be ignored. --J.A. Kegley, Choice Harris has a much wider understanding of enhancement than most bioethicists ... he calls attention to the idea that there must be a new phase in human evolution so that darwinian evolution is replaced by a deliberately chosen process of selection--namely, enhancement. --John Collins Harvey, Journal of the American Medical Association This eleven-chapter book is a major contribution to the debate on enhancement... Written with Harris' characteristic clarity and verve, the book is provocative, engaging, and at times entertaining... Enhancing Evolution is bioethics at its best. It is scientifically well-informed, with imaginative examples, incisive critiques of widely held views against enhancement, and persuasive arguments in favor of these interventions... Harris has hit a powerful volley against those who have argued that human enhancement is morally objectionable. The ball is now in their court. --Walter Glannon, Cambridge Quarterly Healthcare Ethics Enhancing Evolution represents something of a landmark volume in its systematic consideration of human enhancement both as a philosophical concept, and in terms of the emerging technological possibilities and consequences. It has at its heart some unashamedly utilitarian assumptions, with the aim of 'making the world a better place'. --Sarah Chan, EMBO Reports Harris' plea for enhancement is not only provoking. It is really thought-provoking since it demonstrates how deep the philosophical issues are and that we have to address them if we want to make explicit all the metaphysical, meta-ethical and ethical premises all participants in the debate rely on. But without such philosophical reflection a serious and fruitful discussion will not be possible. It is among the merits of this extraordinarily well written book to make this visible. --Michael Quante, Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy Whether one looks upon biotechnology with hope, fear, or a little of both, Enhancing Evolution is a book that should not be ignored. --Human Reproduction and Genetic Ethics

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