In defence of posthuman vulnerability

Scientia et Fides 9 (1):215-239 (2021)
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Transhumanism is a challenging movement that invites us to rethink what defines humanity, including what we value and regret the most about our existence. Vulnerability is a key concept that require thorough philosophical scrutiny concerning transhumanist proposals. Vulnerability can refer to a universal condition of human life or, rather, to the specific exposure to certain harms due to particular situations. Even if we are all vulnerable in the first sense, there are also different sources and levels of vulnerability depending on concrete social circumstances. Recently, Michael Hauskeller argued about a fundamental incompatibility between transhumanism and vulnerability. He understands vulnerability as an existential category, linked to woundability and mortality. This idea is akin to ontological vulnerability, but it does not notice some important features of social vulnerability. On the other side, transhumanism is a complex and non-homogeneous movement. Here we distinguish between a strong and a weak version of transhumanism. We will propose that the salience of vulnerability is only diminished in the radical one, while a moderate version can reconcile vulnerability with human enhancement. Thus, vulnerability, a concept that has recently gained much importance as an anthropological category in contemporary ethics, is not necessarily at odds with any transhumanist project.
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