Harder, Faster, Stronger – Better
Aristotle’s Ethics and Physical Human Enhancement
Physical human enhancement is usually perceived as a morally insignificant topic, especially in the rare instance when it is considered outside the realm of competitive sport. Nick Bostrom explains the physical enhancement literature’s narrow focus by noting that “the value of such enhancement outside the sporting and cosmetic arenas is questionable” (2008, 131). In the present paper, I argue that this perception is a result of limitations inherent to the ethical paradigms under which bioethical analysis is commonly done. It is unsurprisingly difficult to find moral value in brute physical capacity when we tend to attach the tags “moral” and “ethical” only to interpersonal, especially altruistic, relations. I proceed to describe Aristotle’s ethical paradigm as having a wider scope, and present his apparently self-contradictory views on the moral value of physical excellence. I then sketch a modified Aristotelian theory, which consistently affirms the value of human physical and mental activity alike, and show how an Aristotelian emphasis on human function can reveal physical human enhancement to be a tap into intrinsic moral value.
Copyright (c) 2021 Kyle Oskvig
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