Radical enhancement as a moral status de-enhancer

Monash Bioethics Review 1 (2):146-165 (2020)
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Nicholas Agar, Jeff McMahan and Allen Buchanan have all expressed concerns about enhancing humans far outside the species-typical range. They argue radically enhanced beings will be entitled to greater and more beneficial treatment through an enhanced moral status, or a stronger claim to basic rights. I challenge these claims by first arguing that emerging technologies will likely give the enhanced direct control over their mental states. The lack of control we currently exhibit over our mental lives greatly contributes to our sense of vulnerability. I then argue moral status should be viewed in terms of vulnerability. The enhanced will slowly gain the ability to command their mental states, reducing their vulnerability. These radically enhanced beings will have greater capacities, and possibly an inner life more valuable than our own. They will also be less vulnerable, and as a result, their moral status will be subordinate to our own.

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