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Being good enough to prevent the worst
  1. Michael Hauskeller
  1. Correspondence to Professor Michael Hauskeller, Department of Sociology and Philosophy, University of Exeter, Amory Building, Rennes Drive, Exeter EX44RJ, UK; M.Hauskeller{at}exeter.ac.uk

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The argument for moral bioenhancement is actually quite simple and straightforward: there are a lot of bad people out there who, in an age where weapons of mass destruction are no longer very difficult to come by, pose a danger to the survival of humanity (or at least the kind of human life that most of us have come to treasure). There are also quite a number of relatively good people out there who are simply not good enough to deal effectively with the global problems that we face today, from world poverty to climate change. They, or rather we, just do not seem to be able, for whatever reason, evolutionary or otherwise, to care enough to stop the damage that in the long run threatens to kill or irrevocably harm us. It is not that we have not tried, but lots of summits have gone by, lots of resolutions have been passed and nothing much has changed. It seems that we are largely immune to reason in these areas. It is hard to deny that this really is a problem, especially if we want to hold on to liberal democracy and the values that go with it. A dictatorship might do the trick, but it would have to be a benevolent one, with a kind of philosopher king in the driver's seat, and we all know how often that happens. Yet it is probably fair to say that liberal democracy is constitutionally unable to solve the problem because it can only ever allow popular policies, and the restrictions that we would have to impose on ourselves in order to save the planet for future generations and non-human animals are never going to be very popular as long as we are morally so restricted as we are. Thus we tend …

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