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Truly Human EnhancementA Philosophical Defense of Limits$
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Nicholas Agar

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262026635

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262026635.001.0001

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Two Ideals of Human Enhancement

Two Ideals of Human Enhancement

(p.17) 2 Two Ideals of Human Enhancement
Truly Human Enhancement

Nicholas Agar

The MIT Press

This chapter presents two ideals that compete to direct the enhancement of human beings. According to the objective ideal, an enhancement has prudential value commensurate with the degree to which it objectively enhances a human capacity. Technologies that produce enhancements of greater objective magnitude are, all else equal, more valuable than technologies that produce enhancements of lesser magnitude. The objective ideal is strongly suggested by many of the statements of the members of an intellectual and cultural movement known as transhumanism. According to the anthropocentric ideal, some enhancements of greater objective magnitude are more prudentially valuable than enhancements of lesser magnitude. However, some enhancements of greater magnitude are less valuable than enhancements of lesser magnitude. Such assessments are warranted for enhancements of our capacities to levels significantly beyond human norms. I connect these different ideals of enhancement with Alasdair MacIntyre’s discussion of the internal and external goods of human activities.

Keywords:   Objective ideal of enhancement, Anthropocentric ideal of enhancement, External goods, Internal goods

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