Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 359–378 | Cite as

Human Enhancement, Social Solidarity and the Distribution of Responsibility

  • John DanaherEmail author


This paper tries to clarify, strengthen and respond to two prominent objections to the development and use of human enhancement technologies. Both objections express concerns about the link between enhancement and the drive for hyperagency (i.e. the ability to control and manipulate all aspects of one’s agency). The first derives from the work of Sandel and Hauskeller—and is concerned with the negative impact of hyperagency on social solidarity. In responding to their objection, I argue that although social solidarity is valuable, there is a danger in overestimating its value and in neglecting some obvious ways in which the enhancement project can be planned so as to avoid its degradation. The second objection, though common to several writers, has been most directly asserted by Saskia Nagel, and is concerned with the impact of hyperagency on the burden and distribution of responsibility. Though this is an intriguing objection, I argue that not enough has been done to explain why this is morally problematic. I try to correct for this flaw before offering a variety of strategies for dealing with the problems raised.


Enhancement Hyperagency Giftedness argument Solidarity Distribution of responsibility Compliance burdens 



The author would like to thank Nicole Vincent, Filippo Santoni de Sio, Philip Robichaud, Nadira Faber and two anonymous reviewers for helpful feedback on earlier drafts of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of LawNUI GalwayGalwayIreland

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