Egalitarianism and moral bioenhancement

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Abstract

A number of philosophers working in applied ethics and bioethics are now earnestly debating the ethics of what they term moral bioenhancement. I argue that the society-wide program of biological manipulations required to achieve the purported goals of moral bioenhancement would necessarily implicate the state in a controversial moral perfectionism. Moreover, the prospect of being able to reliably identify some people as, by biological constitution, significantly and consistently more moral than others would seem to pose a profound challenge to egalitarian social and political ideals. Even if moral bioenhancement should ultimately prove to be impossible, there is a chance that a bogus science of bioenhancement would lead to arbitrary inequalities in access to political power or facilitate the unjust rule of authoritarians; in the meantime, the debate about the ethics of moral bioenhancement risks reinvigorating dangerous ideas about the extent of natural inequality in the possession of the moral faculties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20 - 28
Number of pages9
JournalThe American Journal of Bioethics
Volume14
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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