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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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The Threat to Human Identities from Too Much Enhancement

The Threat to Human Identities from Too Much Enhancement

(p.55) 4 The Threat to Human Identities from Too Much Enhancement
Truly Human Enhancement

Nicholas Agar

The MIT Press

As radical enhancement provides us with less valuable experiences it tends also to undermine the identities of those who undergo it. This undermining manifests as a threat to the connections of autobiographical memory that either explain human identity over time, or explain a human being’s sense of herself over time. This chapter’s investigation of the effects of radical enhancement on personal identity differs from many other philosophical discussions of the effects of certain kinds of change on human identities. In many discussions the goal is to identify facts constitutive of our identities. These facts would be properly included on a list of necessary and sufficient conditions for human survival. If we decide that the application of a given technology disrupts a necessary condition for the preservation of human identity then we know that the application of the technology necessarily ends a human individual’s existence. Here I argue that radical human enhancement poses a different kind of threat to human identities. Like holidays in war zones it should be viewed as dangerous. Radical enhancement should be viewed as posing a threat to our autobiographical memories that we are unlikely to survive.

Keywords:   Personal identity, Psychological continuity, Autobiographical memory, Life extension

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