Advertisement

Monash Bioethics Review

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 1–21 | Cite as

Bioconservatism, Bioliberalism, and the Wisdom of Reflecting on Repugnance

  • Rebecca Roache
  • Steve Clarke
Articles

Abstract

We consider the current debate between bioconservatives and their chief opponents — whom we dub bioliberals — about the moral acceptability of human enhancement and the policy implications of moral debates about enhancement. We argue that this debate has reached an impasse, largely because bioconservatives hold that we should honour intuitions about the special value of being human, even if we cannot identify reasons to ground those intuitions. We argue that although intuitions are often a reliable guide to belief and action, there are circumstances in which they are not reliable. Intuitions — including intuitions about enhancement — are subject to various cognitive biases rendering them unreliable in some circumstances. We argue that many bioconservative intuitions about enhancement are examples of such unreliable intuitions. Given this, it is unrealistic of bioconservatives to expect others to rely on their unexamined intuitions. Furthermore, refusing to engage in debates about the reasons and values that underpin their intuitions about enhancement will have the effect of making bioconservative voices less relevant in policy debates about enhancement than they would otherwise be.

Keywords

Human Nature Modafinil Moral Intuition Reflective Equilibrium Monash Bioethic Review 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bostrom, N. 2003. ‘The Transhumanist FAQ’, version 2.1 [Internet]. Available from: http://www.transhumanism.org/resources/faq.html.
  2. Bostrom, N. 2005. ‘In defense of posthuman dignity’. Bioethics 19(3): 202–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bostrom, N.; Roache, R. 2007. ‘Ethical issues in human enhancement’. In New Waves in Applied Ethics, edited by Ryberg, J.; Petersen, T.S.; Wolf, C. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacmillGoogle Scholar
  4. Brandt, R. 1979. A Theory of the Good and the Right. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Elliott, R; Sahakian, B.J; Matthews, K et al. 1997. ‘Effects of methylphenidate on spatial working memory and planning in healthy young adults’. Psychopharmacology 131(2): 196–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Fukuyama, F. 2002. Our Posthuman Future. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.Google Scholar
  7. Gilovich, T.; Griffin, D; Kahneman, D. (eds). 2002. Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgement. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Glover, J. 2006. Choosing Children: The Ethical Dilemmas of Genetic Intervention. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Haidt, J. 2001. ‘The emotional dog and its rational tail: A social intuitionist approach to rational judgement’. Psychological Review 108: 814–834.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Haidt, J; Graham, J. 2007. ‘When morality opposes justice: Conservatives have moral intuitions that Liberals may not recognize’. Social Justice Research 20(1): 98–116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Haidt, J; Joseph, C 2004. ‘Intuitive ethics: How innately prepared intuitions generate culturally variable virtues’. Daedalus 133: 55–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Haidt, J; Koller, S.H; Dias, M.G 1993. ‘Affect, culture, and morality, or is it wrong to eat your dog?’ Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 65: 613–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Huxley, A. 1998 [1932]. Brave New World. New York: Harper Perennial.Google Scholar
  14. Kass, L. 1997. ‘The wisdom of repugnance’. The New Republic 2 June: 17–26.Google Scholar
  15. Kass, L. 2003. ‘Ageless bodies, happy souls: Biotechnology and the pursuit of perfection’. The New Atlantis. Spring: 9–28.Google Scholar
  16. Kekes, J. 1998. A Case for Conservatism. New York: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Kleinmuntz, B. 1990. ‘Why we still use our heads instead of formulas: Toward an integrative approach’. Psychological Bulletin 107: 296–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kramer, P. 1993. Listening to Prozac. New York: Penguin.Google Scholar
  19. Levin, Y. 2003. ‘The paradox of conservative bioethics’. The New Atlantis Spring: 53–65.Google Scholar
  20. Levy, N. 2006. ‘Cognitive scientific challenges to morality’. Philosophical Psychology 19(5): 567–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Muller, U; Steffenhagen, N; Regenthal, R; Bublak, P. 2004. ‘Effects of Modafinil on working memory processes in humans’. Psychopharmacology 177(1–2): 161–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Nicol, C. 2007. ‘Brave New World at 75’. The New Atlantis Spring: 41–54.Google Scholar
  23. Rawls, J. 1951. ‘Outline of a decision procedure for ethics’. Philosophical Review 60: 1–19.Google Scholar
  24. Rawls, J. 1971. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Ross W.D. 1930. The Right and the Good. Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  26. Sandel, M. 2004. ‘The case against perfection’. The Atlantic April: 1–11.Google Scholar
  27. Sandel, M. 2007. The Case Against Perfection. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  28. Savulescu, J; Foddy, B; Clayton, M 2004. ‘Why we should allow performance enhancing drugs in sport’. British Journal of Sports Medicine 38: 666–670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Schwarz, N.; Vaughn, L.A. 2002. ‘The availability heuristic revisited’. In Gilovich, T.; Griffin, D; Kahneman, D. (eds). 2002. Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgement, pp. 103–119. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Scruton, R. 2001. The Meaning of Conservatism. 3rd edition. Houndmills: Palgrave.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Selgelid, M. 2002. ‘Social decision making and the new eugenics’. Europäische Akademie, Graue Reihe, Band 30. [Internet]. Available from: http://www.europaeische-akademie-aw.de/pages/publikationen/graue_reihe.php?lang=DE.
  32. Singer, P 2005. ‘Ethics and intuitions’. The Journal of Ethics 9: 331–452.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Slovic, P.; Finucane, M.; Peters, E.; MacGregor, D.G. 2002. ‘The affect heuristic’. In Gilovich, T.; Griffin, D; Kahneman, D. (eds). 2002. Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgement, pp. 397–420. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Starr, C. 1969. ‘Social benefit versus technological risk’. Science 165: 1232–1238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sunstein, C. 2005. ‘Moral heuristics’. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28: 531–573.Google Scholar
  36. Thomson, J.J. 1971. ‘A defense of abortion’. Philosophy and Public Affairs 1(1): 47–66.Google Scholar
  37. Turner, D.C; Robbins, T.W; Clark, L.; et. al. 2003. ‘Cognitive enhancing effects of Modafinil in healthy volunteers’. Psychopharmacology 165(3): 260–269.Google Scholar
  38. Tversky, A; Kahneman, D. 1973. ‘Availability: A heuristic for judging frequency and probability’. Cognitive Psychology 5: 207–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Wilson, T.D.; Centerbar, D.B.; Brekke, N. 2002. ‘Mental contamination and the debiasing problem’. In Gilovich, T.; Griffin, D; Kahneman, D. (eds). 2002. Heuristics and Biases: The Psychology of Intuitive Judgement, pp. 185–200. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Monash University 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rebecca Roache
    • 1
  • Steve Clarke
    • 2
  1. 1.Future of Humanity Institute, James Martin 21st Century School and Faculty of PhilosophyUniversity of OxfordEngland
  2. 2.Program on the Ethics of the New Biosciences, James Martin 21st Century School and Faculty of PhilosophyUniversity of OxfordEngland

Personalised recommendations