“Using Biotechnologies to Enhance Normal Human Functioning ...

alarmduckBiotechnology

Dec 12, 2012 (4 years and 8 months ago)

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“Using Biotechnologies to Enhance Normal Human Functioning: Why Nature Sometimes


Isn’t Good Enough”


Allen Buchanan




Many philosophers invoke the “wisdom of nature” in arguing for varying degrees of caution
in the development and use of genetic enhancement technologies. Because they view natural
selection as akin to a master engineer that creates functionally and morally

optimal design,
these authors tend to regard genetic intervention with suspicion.
The master engineer analogy,
however, is based on faulty assumptions about evolution. Evolution, operating through natural
selection, is not like a master engineer or even a

blind watchmaker. It is more like a morally
blind, fickle, tightly shackled tinkerer. A time may come when we know enough about our
biology to improve on what evolution has produced. In principle,
genetic engineering offers
a
path toward improvement
that

is more efficient, reliable, versatile, and morally palatable than
the lumbering jug
gernaut of Darwinian evolution.
Human nature, as viewed from the
perspective of commonsense, science, and most religious traditions, is a mixed bag, containing
some items

that are admirable and some that are not. To the extent that human nature is based
on our biology, our knowledge of how to modify our biology can transform human nature for
the good.

This lecture is based in part on a forthcoming article, “Breaking Evolu
tion’s
Chains…” by Russell Powell and Allen Buchanan.