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Enhancement, Ability and Disability

People in a digital world, by Wellcome Images
Should science be used to make ourselves and our children better?

Should we use science to make ourselves and our children better? The issue of human enhancement has received particular attention in the context of genetic modification: the idea that we may be able to use genetic technologies not only to cure recognised genetic diseases, but to improve on the “normal” human genome. Yet there is no reason to restrict our consideration solely to genetic enhancement; indeed a better ethical understanding of the debate may be gained by considering the concept of enhancement itself rather than merely the means of enhancing. Important issues in this area include what it means to be “better” or “improved” – that is, what enhancement actually is; what it means to be “normal”, without a definition of which the idea of improving on normal is meaningless, or indeed whether there can be any such definition; and whether there is anything about enhancement that is either morally unacceptable or, conversely, morally obligatory. We consider these issues in relation to various possible forms of enhancement such as physical, cognitive and emotional enhancement, and life extension or even immortality.

Researchers working in this area include: