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The perils of failing to enhance: a response to Persson and Savulescu


Ingmar Persson and Julian Savulescu argue that non-traditional forms of cognitive enhancement (those involving genetic engineering or pharmaceuticals) present a serious threat to humanity, since the fruits of such enhancement, accelerated scientific progress, will give the morally corrupt minority of humanity new and more effective ways to cause great harm. And yet it is scientific progress, accelerated by non-traditional cognitive enhancement, which could allow us to dramatically morally enhance human beings, thereby eliminating, or at least reducing, the threat from the morally corrupt minority. I argue that this apparently intractable dilemma is less difficult to resolve than Persson and Savulescu suppose. Their analysis of non-traditional cognitive enhancement overstates the risks and undervalues the benefits that such enhancement might provide. Once the benefits are better described, it is clear that non-traditional cognitive enhancement could be the means of our survival, not of our destruction.

  • Cognitive enhancement
  • moral enhancement
  • scientific progress

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