Conflict of interest statement: No conflicts declared
Normal Human Variation: Refocussing the Enhancement Debate
Version of Record online: 2 AUG 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Bioethics published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Volume 29, Issue 2, pages 133–143, February 2015
How to Cite
Kahane, G. and Savulescu, J. (2015), Normal Human Variation: Refocussing the Enhancement Debate. Bioethics, 29: 133–143. doi: 10.1111/bioe.12045
- Issue online: 14 JAN 2015
- Version of Record online: 2 AUG 2013
- Wellcome Trust. Grant Number: WT087208MF
- normal variation;
- status quo bias;
- moral psychology
This article draws attention to several common mistakes in thinking about biomedical enhancement, mistakes that are made even by some supporters of enhancement. We illustrate these mistakes by examining objections that John Harris has recently raised against the use of pharmacological interventions to directly modulate moral decision-making. We then apply these lessons to other influential figures in the debate about enhancement. One upshot of our argument is that many considerations presented as powerful objections to enhancement are really strong considerations in favour of biomedical enhancement, just in a different direction. Another upshot is that it is unfortunate that much of the current debate focuses on interventions that will radically transform normal human capacities. Such interventions are unlikely to be available in the near future, and may not even be feasible. But our argument shows that the enhancement project can still have a radical impact on human life even if biomedical enhancement operated entirely within the normal human range.