Better than Human
The Promise and Perils of Enhancing Ourselves
Oxford University Press 2011
Popular culture is replete with warnings about the dangers of technology. One finds in recent films, literature, and music cautions about the myriad ways in which technology threatens our very humanity; most frequently, the lesson is that the attempt to harness technology for the betterment of the world always backfires. It’s no wonder, then, that when it comes to biomedical technologies that promise to enhance human physical and cognitive capacities, many people tend to express deep unease or opposition. But once one recognizes that technological enhancement, including biomedical enhancement, is ubiquitous throughout human history (from the technologies involved with cooking and storing food, to medicine and therapy, to even literacy itself), one wonders whether the common concerns are warranted.
In Better than Human: The Promise and Perils of Enhancing Ourselves (Oxford University Press, 2011), Allen Buchanan surveys the contemporary enhancement debate, offers a diagnosis of what drives some of the views that he finds untenable, and proposes a nuanced view that fully recognizes the moral risks inherent in the enhancement enterprise.