Human Nature and Respect for the Evolutionarily Given: a Comment on Lewens
- Russell Powell
- … show all 1 hide
Rent the article at a discountRent now
* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.Get Access
Any serious ethical discussion of the enhancement of human nature must begin with a reasonably accurate picture of the causal-historical structure of the living world. In this Comment, I show that even biologically sophisticated ethical discussions of the biomedical enhancement of species and speciel natures are susceptible to the kind of essentialistic thinking that Lewens cautions against. Furthermore, I argue that the same evolutionary and developmental considerations that compel Lewens to reject more plausible conceptions of human nature pose equally serious problems for some prominent critiques of biomedical enhancement that presuppose the existence of a “given” biological potential that can be distorted by agentic cultural influences.
- Agar, N. (2010). Humanity's end: why we should reject radical enhancement. Cambridge: MIT Press.
- Beatty, J. (1982). Classes and cladists. Systematic Zoology, 31(1), 25–34. CrossRef
- Buchanan, A. (2009). Beyond humanity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Cohen, G. A. (2011). Rescuing conservatism. In R. J. Wallace, R. Kumar, & S. Freeman (Eds.), Reasons and recognition: essays on the philosophy of T.M. Scanlon (pp. 203–226). Oxford: Oxford University Press. CrossRef
- De Queiroz, K. (2007). Species concepts and species delimitation. Systematic Biology, 56(6), 879–886. CrossRef
- Ghiselin, M. T. (1974). A radical solution to the species problem. Systematic Zoology, 47, 350–383.
- Griffiths, P., & Stotz, K. (2006). Genes in the postgenomic era. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, 27, 499–521. CrossRef
- Hull, D. (1978). A matter of individuality. Philosophy of Science, 45, 335–360. CrossRef
- Kahane, G. (2011). Mastery without mystery: why there is no Promethean sin in enhancement. Journal of Applied Philosophy, 28(4), 355–368. CrossRef
- Lewens, T. (2009). Enhancement and human nature: the case of Sandel. Journal of Medical Ethics, 35, 354–356. CrossRef
- Machery, E. (2008). A plea for human nature. Philosophical Psychology, 21, 321–329. CrossRef
- McNeil, M. C., Polloway, E. A., & Smith, J. D. (1984). Feral and isolated children: historical review and analysis. Education & Training of the Mentally Retarded, 19(1), 70–79.
- Mishler, B. D., & Brandon, R. N. (1987). Individuality, pluralism, and the phylogenetic species concept. Biology and Philosophy, 2, 397–414. CrossRef
- Okasha, S. (2002). Darwinian metaphysics: species and the question of essentialism. Synthese, 131, 191–213. CrossRef
- Paterson, H. (1985). The recognition of species. In E. Vrba (Ed.), Species and speciation (pp. 21–29). Pretoria: Transvaal Museum.
- Patterson, C. (1982). Morphological characters and homology. In K. A. Joysey & A. E. Friday (Eds.), Problems of phylogenetic reconstruction (pp. 21–74). London: Academic Press.
- Robert, J. S. (2004). Embryology, epigenesis, and evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossRef
- Sandel, M. (2002). What's wrong with enhancement. Paper presented to U.S. President's Council on Bioethics (accessed online July 3, 2012).
- Sandel, M. (2007). The case against perfection: ethics in the age of genetic engineering. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
- Sober, E. (1980). Evolution, population thinking, and essentialism. Philosophy of Science, 47(3), 350–383. CrossRef
- Wagner, G. P. (2007). The developmental genetics of homology. Nature Reviews Genetics, 8, 473–479. CrossRef
- Human Nature and Respect for the Evolutionarily Given: a Comment on Lewens
Philosophy & Technology
Volume 25, Issue 4 , pp 485-493
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Springer Netherlands
- Additional Links
- Genetic engineering
- Human nature
- Russell Powell (1)
- Author Affiliations
- 1. Department of Philosophy, Boston University, 745 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, 02215, USA