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Enough: staying human in an engineered age
  1. F Chessa

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    B McKibben, Henry Holt, Company, New York, 2003, hardback, pp 288. ISBN 0805070966

    Bill McKibben’s book, Enough, is about cloning, genetic enhancement, and nanotechnology. His thesis is that these things are bad—nay, they are downright evil. In vivid and readable prose, McKibben explains what will soon be possible with these technologies and provides a dystopian portrait of the future. His alarmist tone is effective. Despite having read several similar works and remaining unmoved, McKibben’s images struck home with me. I began to feel, in my gut, anxiety about the genetically engineered future. McKibben is no stranger to raising the dangers of new technology. His The End of Nature is widely acclaimed to have alerted an unsuspecting public about the danger of global warming. Alarmism was appropriate for The End of Nature, since little was written on global warming prior to 1989. But despite McKibben’s effective writing, his alarmism seems out of place for his current topic, since the potential harms of cloning and genetic engineering have been discussed in the academic and popular press for some time. Remember, it has been 34 years since the appearance of Paul Ramsey’s Fabricated Man, and 72 years since Huxley’s Brave New World.

    McKibben’s most prominent argument against human genetic engineering is that it will cause psychological harm to the people produced from the use of the technology. McKibben claims that people with the knowledge that they resulted from engineered embryos will undergo a crisis in personal responsibility. So, he argues, engineered people will not know whether to take credit for their achievements, (they were designed for great things, after all). Likewise, engineered …

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