Enhancing Evolution: The Ethical Case for Making Better People

Enhancing Evolution: The Ethical Case for Making Better People

by John Harris

Paperback(With a New preface by the author)

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Overview

In Enhancing Evolution, leading bioethicist John Harris dismantles objections to genetic engineering, stem-cell research, designer babies, and cloning and makes an ethical case for biotechnology that is both forthright and rigorous. Human enhancement, Harris argues, is a good thing—good morally, good for individuals, good as social policy, and good for a genetic heritage that needs serious improvement. Enhancing Evolution defends biotechnological interventions that could allow us to live longer, healthier, and even happier lives by, for example, providing us with immunity from cancer and HIV/AIDS. Further, Harris champions the possibility of influencing the very course of evolution to give us increased mental and physical powers—from reasoning, concentration, and memory to strength, stamina, and reaction speed. Indeed, he says, it's not only morally defensible to enhance ourselves; in some cases, it's morally obligatory.


In a new preface, Harris offers a glimpse at the new science and technology to come, equipping readers with the knowledge to assess the ethics and policy dimensions of future forms of human enhancement.

Editorial Reviews

Scientific American

"John Harris...assumes not only that biotechnological enhancement is going to happen but that we have a moral obligation to make it happen."

From the Publisher

"This provocative book is a valuable retort to those who would summon the ghost of Frankenstein's monster at the first sight of a test tube."—-Stephen Cave, Financial Times

Human Reproduction and Genetic Ethics

"Whether one looks upon biotechnology with hope, fear, or a little of both, Enhancing Evolution is a book that should not be ignored."

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy - Michael Quante

Harris' plea for enhancement is not only provoking. It is really thought-provoking since it demonstrates how deep the philosophical issues are and that we have to address them if we want to make explicit all the metaphysical, meta-ethical and ethical premises all participants in the debate rely on. But without such philosophical reflection a serious and fruitful discussion will not be possible. It is among the merits of this extraordinarily well written book to make this visible.

EMBO Reports - Sarah Chan

Enhancing Evolution represents something of a landmark volume in its systematic consideration of human enhancement both as a philosophical concept, and in terms of the emerging technological possibilities and consequences. It has at its heart some unashamedly utilitarian assumptions, with the aim of 'making the world a better place'.

Cambridge Quarterly Healthcare Ethics - Walter Glannon

This eleven-chapter book is a major contribution to the debate on enhancement. . . . Written with Harris' characteristic clarity and verve, the book is provocative, engaging, and at times entertaining. . . . Enhancing Evolution is bioethics at its best. It is scientifically well-informed, with imaginative examples, incisive critiques of widely held views against enhancement, and persuasive arguments in favor of these interventions. . . . Harris has hit a powerful volley against those who have argued that human enhancement is morally objectionable. The ball is now in their court.

Journal of the American Medical Association - John Collins Harvey

Harris has a much wider understanding of enhancement than most bioethicists . . . he calls attention to the idea that there must be a new phase in human evolution so that darwinian evolution is replaced by a deliberately chosen process of selection—namely, enhancement.

Choice - J.A. Kegley

Harris argues that biotechnological enhancements are morally good, a sensible social imperative, and necessary to improve humankind's genetic heritage. He believes people should seek increased powers and longer, healthier lives...He takes on objections to genetic engineering, stem-cell research, and designer babies. Harris's arguments for increased biotechnological intervention for the betterment of human life, though controversial, cannot be ignored.

The American Interest - Richard Hayes

[Harris] raises the stakes. Harris argues that humanity has been evolving biologically for millennia, and that those who believe we should forego the opportunity to evolve further through the use of genetic technology are 'making a fetish of a particular evolutionary stage.

Church Times - Robin Gill

Professor Harris uses his philosophical skills very effectively to expose public confusion.

THES - Mary Warnock

[Harris] is warmly enthusiastic about the possibilities; moreover he is unshakably convinced that all human beings, given that they are capable of moral sense, have a duty not only to make things better for people, but to make people better as well....It is a pleasure to read a book that is so jolly about the future of mankind.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution - Richard Halicks

[Harris] challenges conventional thinking about genetic engineering, stem-cell research, designer children and other concepts that make most people uneasy.

The Globe and Mail - Arthur Schafer

[A] fine contribution to clear thinking and cogent argument in a field where these commodities have been in short supply.

Nature - Judy Illes

A persuasive case that today's biotechnologies...are on the continuum of an age-long pursuit by humans to improve themselves.

Financial Times - Stephen Cave

This provocative book is a valuable retort to those who would summon the ghost of Frankenstein's monster at the first sight of a test tube.

Human Reproduction and Genetic Ethics"


Whether one looks upon biotechnology with hope, fear, or a little of both, Enhancing Evolution is a book that should not be ignored.

EMBO Reports

Enhancing Evolution represents something of a landmark volume in its systematic consideration of human enhancement both as a philosophical concept, and in terms of the emerging technological possibilities and consequences. It has at its heart some unashamedly utilitarian assumptions, with the aim of 'making the world a better place'.
— Sarah Chan

Cambridge Quarterly Healthcare Ethics

This eleven-chapter book is a major contribution to the debate on enhancement. . . . Written with Harris' characteristic clarity and verve, the book is provocative, engaging, and at times entertaining. . . . Enhancing Evolution is bioethics at its best. It is scientifically well-informed, with imaginative examples, incisive critiques of widely held views against enhancement, and persuasive arguments in favor of these interventions. . . . Harris has hit a powerful volley against those who have argued that human enhancement is morally objectionable. The ball is now in their court.
— Walter Glannon

Journal of the American Medical Association

Harris has a much wider understanding of enhancement than most bioethicists . . . he calls attention to the idea that there must be a new phase in human evolution so that darwinian evolution is replaced by a deliberately chosen process of selection—namely, enhancement.
— John Collins Harvey

Choice

Harris argues that biotechnological enhancements are morally good, a sensible social imperative, and necessary to improve humankind's genetic heritage. He believes people should seek increased powers and longer, healthier lives...He takes on objections to genetic engineering, stem-cell research, and designer babies. Harris's arguments for increased biotechnological intervention for the betterment of human life, though controversial, cannot be ignored.
— J.A. Kegley

The American Interest

[Harris] raises the stakes. Harris argues that humanity has been evolving biologically for millennia, and that those who believe we should forego the opportunity to evolve further through the use of genetic technology are 'making a fetish of a particular evolutionary stage.
— Richard Hayes

Church Times

Professor Harris uses his philosophical skills very effectively to expose public confusion.
— Robin Gill

THES

[Harris] is warmly enthusiastic about the possibilities; moreover he is unshakably convinced that all human beings, given that they are capable of moral sense, have a duty not only to make things better for people, but to make people better as well....It is a pleasure to read a book that is so jolly about the future of mankind.
— Mary Warnock

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

[Harris] challenges conventional thinking about genetic engineering, stem-cell research, designer children and other concepts that make most people uneasy.
— Richard Halicks

The Globe and Mail

[A] fine contribution to clear thinking and cogent argument in a field where these commodities have been in short supply.
— Arthur Schafer

Nature

A persuasive case that today's biotechnologies...are on the continuum of an age-long pursuit by humans to improve themselves.
— Judy Illes

Financial Times

This provocative book is a valuable retort to those who would summon the ghost of Frankenstein's monster at the first sight of a test tube.
— Stephen Cave

Medicine Health Care and Philosophy

Harris' plea for enhancement is not only provoking. It is really thought-provoking since it demonstrates how deep the philosophical issues are and that we have to address them if we want to make explicit all the metaphysical, meta-ethical and ethical premises all participants in the debate rely on. But without such philosophical reflection a serious and fruitful discussion will not be possible. It is among the merits of this extraordinarily well written book to make this visible.
— Michael Quante

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691148168
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 10/17/2010
Series: Science Essentials Series
Edition description: With a New preface by the author
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 1,232,243
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.40(d)

Customer Reviews