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It is uncontroversial to claim that there are good reasons for why human beings seek to enhance themselves throughout their lives. Indeed, humans have always sought to enhance themselves, where some of the more familiar methods include education, exercise or a good diet. Undertaking these pursuits may lead to much greater capabilities than one would otherwise have and may also lead to an advantage over those who choose not to indulge in such practices. To this end, what is it, if anything, that distinguishes these accepted methods of enhancement from those that cause moral concern, such as using drugs or genetic modification?

One common argument that is used to challenge the value of human enhancement is to claim that the means by which people achieve their goals in life matter. As such, if one adopts a technological shortcut to achieve some goal, then this may undermine its value. For instance, if one is a mountaineer and decides to reach the summit of the mountain by using a helicopter rather than one’s body, then not only has the value of the achievement been undermined, but we might not even claim that a mountain has been climbed at all. Closely allied to the concern about how one attains achievements is an ethical issue that has been articulated often in relation to psychopharmacological substances, such as Prozac. In these cases, it is argued that certain uses may be morally undesirable forms of enhancement, as they transform a person into somebody else and that this disconnection is logically undesirable.

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MIT Technology Review

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