Destiny and Desire
How To Think About Radical Enhancement
Keywords:agency, cosmic purpose, future studies, human enhancement, human nature, metaethics, radical enhancement, senescence, species relativism, transformative choice
The prospect of radical human enhancement challenges us with how we can even think about the choice to enhance or not enhance. Whether as individuals or as citizens of liberal democracies, we already recognize the prospect of a future that is defined by technology, without being able to predict or imagine what it will be like or how we should try to influence it. We can also be sure that radical enhancement of ourselves as individuals, or of a large proportion of our fellow citizens, will alter the very standards and values by which we, as individuals or polities, later evaluate decisions to enhance – this is one version of the more general problem of transformative choice. In response to these challenges, it is plausible that we have no alternative to choosing and acting on our current desires and values (perhaps as “corrected” by rational reflection on what we more deeply care about), rather than our expected future values or some set of values that is objectively authoritative for us. On the other hand, our current value-outlooks include a degree of openness to our desires and values themselves changing, and for this reason we can often finesse the problem of transformative choice when it arises in everyday situations. On the gripping hand, this does not entirely solve the problem when it comes to something as dramatic and unprecedented as radical enhancement. There is some reason for an incremental, rather than apocalyptic, approach, even if we are sympathetic to a human future shaped by radical enhancement initiatives.
Copyright (c) 2021 Russell Blackford
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