January 9, 2006

Reason Debate: Who’s Afraid of Human Enhancement?

Reason Magazine recently conducted a debate on the the promise, perils, and ethics of human enhancement. The panelists included Ronald Bailey, Reason’s science correspondent and author of Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution, Eric Cohen, director of the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Biotechnology and American Democracy Program and editor of the group’s journal, The New Atlantis; and Joel Garreau, a reporter and editor for The Washington Post and author of Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies, and What It Means To Be Human. The debate was moderated by Reason Editor in Chief, Nick Gillespie.

Nick Gillespie's intro to the debate:
Nick Gillespie: Our purpose tonight is to hash out questions and issues revolving around human enhancement based on technologies that include cloning; stem-cell research; processes to increase longevity, intelligence, and physical abilities; and many other procedures at various stages of development. What was once the province of science fiction—human beings augmented to such a degree that they become “post-human”—is rapidly becoming fact. Indeed, one of our panelists tonight will even argue that within the next century death itself may become optional. These are the sorts of developments that fill some with hope and others with horror.

Our panelists tonight will not agree on very much, but on this basic point I suspect they’re in complete agreement: Forget all the talk about Social Security solvency, income tax rates, blue states, red states, even the war in Iraq. The most fundamental social and political issue facing the world today—and tomorrow—is the question of human enhancement.
The entire transcript of the debate can be found here, or also in MP3 format.

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