Skip to main content

Problems of Transhumanism

  • 125 Accesses

Abstract

This chapter delves further into the essential principles of transhumanism and assesses its legitimation on the basis of its continuity with traditional practices and theories in order to focus on one of its fundamental features. In particular, two problems are analysed: the continuity between therapy and enhancement and its possible consequences, and the transhumanists’ conception of the human body. The purpose of these analyses is to show that the continuist strategy through which transhumanists seek to legitimise their theses is based on a superficial positivism that oversimplifies the consequences of an indiscriminate use of technology for human enhancement. The final section of the chapter focuses on the role technology plays in enhancement practices, the unintended and uncontrollable effects of which have been ignored by transhumanists.

Keywords

  • Therapy
  • Medicine
  • Anthropology
  • Disability
  • Technology

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-82423-5_5
  • Chapter length: 54 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   89.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-82423-5
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Hardcover Book
USD   119.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

References

  • Agar, N. (2014). Truly human enhancement: A philosophical defense of limits. MIT Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Arendt, H. (1998). The human condition (2nd ed.). University of Chicago Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bostrom, N. (2009b). Dignity and enhancement. In B. Lanigan (Ed.), Human dignity and bioethics (pp. 123–144). Nova Science Pub Inc.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bostrom, N., & Sandberg, A. (2009). The wisdom of nature: An evolutionary heuristic for human enhancement. In J. Savalescu & N. Bostrom (Eds.), Human enhancement (pp. 375–416). Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brey, P. (2014). From moral agents to moral factors: The structural ethics approach. In P. Kroes & P.-P. Verbeek (Eds.), The moral status of technical artefacts (pp. 125–147). Springer.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Buchanan, A. (2011b). Beyond humanity? Oxford University Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Cabrera, L. Y. (2015). Rethinking human enhancement: Social enhancement and emergent technologies. Palgrave Macmillan.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Canguilhem, G. (1989). Machine et organisme. In La connaissance de la vie (pp. 101–127). Vrin.

    Google Scholar 

  • Canguilhem, G. (1991). The normal and the pathological. Zone Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Charis Hall, M. (2017). The bioethics of enhancement: Transhumanism, disability, and biopolitics. Lexington Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clark, A. (2004). Natural-born cyborgs. Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Clark, A., & Chalmers, D. (1998). The extended mind. Analysis, 581, 7–19.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Clynes, M. E., & Kline, N. (1960). Cyborgs and space. Astronautics, 13, 27–31.

    Google Scholar 

  • Coeckelbergh, M. (2013a). Human Being @ Risk: Enhancement, technology, and the evaluation of vulnerability transformations. Springer Netherlands.

    Google Scholar 

  • Coeckelbergh, M. (2013b). Enhancement and the vulnerable body: Questioning some philosophical assumptions. In F. Lucivero & A. Vedder (Eds.), Beyond therapy v. enhancement (pp. 15–26). Pisa University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Daniels, N. (2009). Can anyone really be talking about ethically modifying human nature? In J. Savulescu & N. Bostrom (Eds.), Human enhancement (pp. 25–42). Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dawkins, R. (1986). The Blind Watchmaker: Why the evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design. Norton & Co.

    Google Scholar 

  • Doyle, J. (2018). What does it mean to be human? Life, death, personhood and the transhumanist movement. Springer.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Eilers, M., Grüber, K., & Rehmann-Sutter, C. (2014). The human enhancement debate and disability: New bodies for a better life. Palgrave Macmillan.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Flanigan, J., & Price, T. L. (2018). The ethics of ability and enhancement. Palgrave Macmillan.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Giubilini, A., & Sanyal, S. (2016). Challenging human enhancement. In S. Clarke, J. Savulescu, T. Coady, A. Giubilini, & S. Sanyal (Eds.), The ethics of human enhancement: Understanding the debate (pp. 1–24). Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goffette, J. (2009). Modifier les humains: Anthropotechnie versus médecine. In J.-N. Missa & L.Perbal (Eds.), «Enhancement». Ethique et philosophie de la médecine d’amélioration (pp. 49–63). Vrin.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gray, C. H. (2000). Cyborg citizen: Politics in the posthuman age. Routledge.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Haisma, H. J. (2011). Physical enhancement. In J. Savulescu, R. ter Meulen, & G. Kahane (Eds.), Enhancing human capacity (pp. 259–265). Wiley-Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  • Harnacke, C. (2013). Discussing enhancement and disability together. In F. Lucivero & A. Vedder (Eds.), Beyond therapy enhancement (pp. 69–94). Pisa University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Harris, J. (2007). Enhancing evolution. Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hauskeller, M. (2016). Mythologies of transhumanism. Palgrave Macmillan.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hess, D. (1995). On low tech cyborg. In C. H. Gray (Ed.), The cyborg handbook (pp. 371–378). Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Israel, G. (2004). La macchina vivente. Contro le visioni meccanicistiche dell’uomo. Bollati-Boringhieri.

    Google Scholar 

  • Juengst, E. T. (1998). What does enhancement mean. In E. Parens (Ed.), Enhancing human traits (pp. 29–47). Georgetown University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kant, I. (1991). The contest of faculties: A renewed attempt to answer the question: ‘Is the human race continually improving?’. In Political writings (pp. 176–190). Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kass, L. R. (2002). Life, liberty and the defense of dignity: The challenge for bioethics. Encounteurs Book.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kolnai, A. (1976). Dignity. Philosophy, 51, 251–271.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kurzweil, R. (2005). The singularity is near. Penguin.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lanigan, B. T. (2009). Human dignity and bioethics. Nova Science.

    Google Scholar 

  • Levy, N. (2007). Neuroethics: Challenges for the 21st century. Cambridge University Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Macklin, R. (2003). Dignity is a useless concept. British Medical Journal, 327(7429), 1419–1420.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Macklin, R. (2006). The new conservatives in bioethics: Who are they and what do they seek? Hastings Center Report, 361, 34–43.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Mehlman, M. J. (2009). The price of perfection: Individualism and society in the era of biomedical enhancement. Johns Hopkins University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mitcham, C. (2014). Agency in humans and in artifacts: A contested discourse. In P. Kroes & P.-P. Verbeek (Eds.), The moral status of technical artefacts (pp. 11–30). Springer.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • More, M. (2011). True transhumanism: A reply to Don Ihde. In G. R. Hansell & W. J. Grassie (Eds.), H+ transhumanism and its critics (pp. 62–66). Metanexus Institute.

    Google Scholar 

  • More, M. (2013a). The philosophy of transhumanism. In M. More & N. Vita-More (Eds.), The transhumanist reader (pp. 3–17). Wiley-Blackwell.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • More, M. (2013c). A letter to mother nature. In M. M. Max & N. Vita-More (Eds.), The transhumanist reader (pp. 449–450). Wiley-Blackwell.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • O’Connell, M. (2017). To be a machine: Adventures among cyborgs, utopians, hackers and the futurists. Doubleday.

    Google Scholar 

  • PCB. (2003). Beyond therapy: Biotechnology and the pursuit of happiness. President’s Council on Bioethics. Harper & Collins.

    Google Scholar 

  • Peters, T. (2003). Playing God: Genetic determinism and human freedom. Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Roache, R., & Clarke, S. (2009). Bioconservatism, bioliberalism, and the wisdom of reflecting on repugnance. Monash Bioethics Review, 28(4), 1–21.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Rubin, C. (2009). Commentary on Bostrom. In B. T. Lanigan (Ed.), Human dignity and bioethics (pp. 145–147). Nova Science.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sandel, M. (2004). The case against perfection. The Atlantic Monthly, 1–10.

    Google Scholar 

  • Satz, A., & Silvers, A. (2000). Disability and biotechnology. In T. Murray (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of ethical, legal, and policy issues in biotechnology (pp. 173–187). Wiley-Interscience.

    Google Scholar 

  • Savulescu, J., Sandberg, A., & Kahane, G. (2011). Well-Being and enhancement. In J. Savulescu, R. ter Meulen, & G. Kahane (Eds.), Enhancing human capacities (pp. 3–18). Wiley-Blackwell.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Shakespeare, T. (2014). Foreword: Five thoughts about enhancement. In M. Eilers, K. Grüber, & C. Rehmann-Sutter (Eds.), The human enhancement debate and disability: New bodies for a better life (pp. ix–xiii). Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sorgner, S. L., Jovanovic, B.-R., & Grimm, N. (2013). Evolution and the future: Anthropology, ethics, religion. Peter Lang.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tamburrini, C., & Tännsjö, T. (2011). Enhanced Bodies. In J. Savulescu, R. Ter Meulen, & G. Kahane (Eds.), Enhancing human capacity (pp. 274–290). Wiley-Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  • Verbeek, P.-P. (2011). Moralizing technology: Understanding and designing the morality of things. University of Chicago Press.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Warwick, K. (2004). I, Cyborg. University of Illinois Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Weckert, J. (2016). Playing God: What is the problem? In S. Clarke, J. Savulescu, T. Coady, A. Giubilini, & S. Sanyal (Eds.), The ethics of human enhancement: Understanding the debate (pp. 87–99). Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wiesing, U. (2008). The history of medical enhancement: From Restitutio ad Integrum to Transformatio ad Optimum?. In B. Gordijn & R. Chadwick (Eds.), Medical enhancement and posthumanity (pp. 9–24). Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  • Winance, M., Marcellini, A., & de Léséleuc, E. (2015). From repair to enhancement: The use of technical aids in the field of disability. In S. Bateman, J. Gayon, S. Allouche, J. Goffette, & M. Marzano (Eds.), Inquiring into human enhancement: Interdisciplinary and international perspectives (pp. 119–137). Palgrave Macmillan

    Google Scholar 

  • Winner, L. (1989). The whale and the reactor: A search for limits in an age of high technology. The University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Francesco Paolo Adorno .

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2021 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Adorno, F.P. (2021). Problems of Transhumanism. In: The Transhumanist Movement. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-82423-5_5

Download citation

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-82423-5_5

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-82422-8

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-82423-5

  • eBook Packages: Social SciencesSocial Sciences (R0)