In Service to Others: A New Evolutionary Perspective on Human Enhancement

Hastings Center Report 51 (6):33-43 (2021)
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In enhancement ethics, evolutionary theory has been largely perceived as supporting liberal views on enhancement, where decisions to enhance are predominantly regulated by the principle of individual autonomy. In this paper I critique this perception in light of recent scientific developments. Cultural evolutionary theory suggests a picture where individual interests are entangled with community interests, and this undermines the applicability of the principle of autonomy. This is particularly relevant for enhancement ethics, given how – I argue – decisions to enhance are often influenced by desires to increase social status. The “service view on enhancement”, based on principles of service and trust, is proposed as offering better guidance for the challenges of social living.

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Hugh Desmond
Leibniz Universität Hannover


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