Moral Bio-enhancement, Freedom, Value and the Parity Principle

Topoi 38 (1):73-86 (2019)
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A prominent objection to non-cognitive moral bio-enhancements is that they would compromise the recipient’s ‘freedom to fall’. I begin by discussing some ambiguities in this objection, before outlining an Aristotelian reading of it. I suggest that this reading may help to forestall Persson and Savulescu’s ‘God-Machine’ criticism; however, I suggest that the objection still faces the problem of explaining why the value of moral conformity is insufficient to outweigh the value of the freedom to fall itself. I also question whether the objection is compatible with Neil Levy’s parity principle. Accordingly, I go on to consider an alternative relational freedom-based objection to NCMBEs that aims to explain the fundamental moral importance of the freedom that NCMBEs would violate. I argue that although this strategy might allow the critic of NCMBEs to bypass a powerful criticism of Harris’ objection, it also weakens the freedom-based objection’s compatibility with the parity principle.

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Jonathan Pugh
Oxford University


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