Transhumanism And Elective Amputation Essay

2527 words - 10 pages

The two controversial topics discussed below share a single goal: to enhance the quality of life of a human individual. The first topic, transhumanism, is a largely theoretical movement that involves the advancement of the human body through scientific augmentations of existing human systems. This includes a wide variety of applications, such as neuropharmacology to enhance the function of the human brain, biomechanical interfaces to allow the human muscles to vastly out-perform their unmodified colleagues, and numerous attempts to greatly extend, perhaps indefinitely, the human lifespan. While transhumanist discussion is predominantly a thinking exercise, it brings up many important ethical dilemmas that may face human society much sooner than the advancements transhumanism desires to bring into reality. The second topic, elective removal of healthy limbs at the request of the patient, carries much more immediate gravity. Sufferers of a mental condition known as Body Integrity Identity Disorder seek to put to rest the disturbing disconnect between their internal body image and their external body composition. This issue is often clouded by sensationalism and controversy in the media, and is therefore rarely discussed in a productive manner (Bridy). This lack of discussion halts progress and potentially limits citizens' rights, as legislation is enacted without sufficient research. The primary arguments against each topic are surprisingly similar; an expansion on both transhumanism and elective amputation follows, along with a discussion of the merit of those arguments. The reader will see how limits placed on both transhumanism and elective amputation cause more harm to whole of human society than good.

Transhumanism and the 'Human Essence'
Tranhumanism's greatest enemies are those deemed by transhumanists as “bioconservatives.” As the name suggests, bioconservatives' conservative views arise from their belief that our rights as humans, and therefore our definition of "human," stem from our bodies. Bioconservatives are hesitant to alter that body in fear of changing those rights the law provides to human in its present state. One of the most prominent bioconservatives, Francis Fukuyama, a member of the President's Council on Bioethics, suggests our definition of human should depend on the most solid evidence: our genetic make-up. He says “every member of the human species possesses a genetic endowment that allows him or her to become a whole human being, an endowment that distinguishes a human in essence from other types of creatures” (Fukuyama 171). Wilson further explains Fukuyama's argument, stating “the equality of human beings rests on the contingent fact that all human beings share the same human nature, and that hence were we to make fundamental alterations to human nature (as transhumanists advocate doing), there would no longer be any basis for moral egalitarianism”. The chairman of the World Transhumanist Association...

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