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David DeGrazia offers what I will call a constructive account of moral enhancement.1 By constructive I mean that he seeks to describe moral enhancement so as to make clear why it produces beings with a superior entitlement to benefits and a reduced eligibility for harms.
Much of DeGrazia's discussion of moral enhancement is in terms of moral status: moral enhancement is understood as producing beings with superior moral status. In the course of his discussion, he proposes an alternative analysis of moral enhancement that avoids talk of different statuses. According to this interests model, moral enhancement does not alter status, rather it results in a (systematically) stronger interest in avoiding harms and receiving benefits. The interests model is not without philosophical value. However, for simplicity's sake, I conduct my discussion in terms of moral status enhancement. My criticisms apply also to the enhancement of moral interests.
I argue that constructive accounts of moral status enhancement predictably fail to show why enhancements of human capacities would enhance moral status. The fault is not in the accounts themselves. Rather it is in their audiences. We mere persons cannot understand criteria for a moral status higher than personhood.
DeGrazia's constructive case for morally superior beings
DeGrazia imagines a world of 2145 populated by unenhanced humans and beings who have evolved from humans ‘through carefully planned genetic modifications’ (p10).1 The members of this subpopulation are superior to …