Article Text

other Versions

The turn for ultimate harm: a reply to Fenton
  1. Ingmar Persson1,
  2. Julian Savulescu2
  1. 1Department of Philosophy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  2. 2University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Julian Savulescu, University of Oxford, The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Suite 8, Littlegate House, 16–17 St Ebbes Street, Oxford OX1 1PT, UK; julian.savulescu{at}


Elizabeth Fenton has criticised an earlier article by the authors in which the claim was made that, by providing humankind with means of causing its destruction, the advance of science and technology has put it in a perilous condition that might take the development of genetic or biomedical techniques of moral enhancement to get out of. The development of these techniques would, however, require further scientific advances, thus forcing humanity deeper into the danger zone created by modern science. Fenton argues that the benefits of scientific advances are undervalued. The authors believe that the argument rather relies upon attaching a special weight to even very slight risks of major catastrophes, and attempt to vindicate this weighting.

  • Enhancement

Statistics from


  • Competing interests None to declare.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.