The Uncharted Moral Landscape of Designer Personalities

Ronald A. Lindsay

Few moral issues attract as much attention from moral philosophers these days as the ethics of human enhancement—of using pharmacological agents, genetic engineering, or biomedical implants to improve our memory, intelligence, strength, endurance, agility, or personality. To analyze the morality of enhancements, we must consider new technologies, review scientific developments, make predictions about the future, entertain hypotheticals that border on science fiction, and ponder novel moral dilemmas. Contemplating this compelling brew of fact, fantasy, and value certainly beats rehashing old disputes about abortion, affirmative action, and capital punishment.

In addition, offering one’s views on enhancements has this distinct advantage: since arguments about enhancements depend to a significant extent on what might happen, it is difficult for others to prove one’s moral position unsound. Armchair moralizing has rarely been as much fun—or as speculative.

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