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Is Human Nature Obsolete? : Genetics, Bioengineering, and the Future of the Human Condition - Harold W. Baillie

Is Human Nature Obsolete?

Genetics, Bioengineering, and the Future of the Human Condition

By: Harold W. Baillie (Editor), Timothy K. Casey (Editor), Arthur L. Caplan (Editor)

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As our scientific and technical abilities expand at breathtaking speeds, concern that modern genetics and bioengineering are leading us to a posthuman future is growing. Is Human Nature Obsolete? poses the overarching question of what it is to be human against the background of these current advances in biotechnology. Its perspective is philosophical and interdisciplinary rather than technical; the focus is on questions of fundamental ontological importance rather than the specifics of medical or scientific practice.The authors -- all distinguished scholars in their fields -- take on questions about technology's goals and values that are often ignored or sidelined in the face of rapid scientific advances and the highly specialized nature of technical knowledge. The essays included represent a rich variety of thought, ranging from finely nuanced philosophical and theological arguments to historical studies and cultural commentaries. Several explore the historical background of today's biotechnology: Timothy Casey traces such developments as the emergence of cybernetic humanity from Cartesian dualism, and Diane Paul presents the history of "positive" versus coerced eugenics. Jean Bethke Elshtain discusses cloning as a "messianic project" to perfect the body and exclude natural diversity -- giving as an example the elimination of Down Syndrome as an acceptable human type -- while Harold Baillie calls for an examination of the metaphysical roots of personhood. Robert Proctor finds no evidence in paleontology for any "essence of humanity," and Tom Shannon argues against materialist reductionism. Addressing social concerns, Lisa Sowle Cahill finds the possibility of a political solution to the problems raised by genetic engineering in Catholic teachings on social justice, and Langdon Winner looks critically at the "scientific enthusiasts of a posthuman future." Taken as a whole, the book provides a humanistic overview of a subject too often considered only in its technological aspect.

"Modifying ourselves through molecular biology is a humanitarian utopia to some, an imminent nightmare to others. But to all, the prospect should be a challenge because it touches on so many basic and unresolved questions. This excellent, probing collection of papers -- spanning philosophy, history, social science, and theology -- will be welcomed by professionals and lay readers alike."--Edward Tenner, author of *Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences* and *Our Own Devices: How Technology Remakes Humanity* "The conversation about what we want--literally--to make of ourselves is probably the most important conversation human beings will ever have. This carefully considered book is a fine entry into that dialogue, and it comes not a moment too soon." Bill McKibben, author of Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age "It is fascinating to listen in behind the scenes as philosophers try to figure out new ways to be relevant in the debate over the environment. I hope these nascent efforts expand -- the recalibration of the rightful human role in the natural world is one of the great practical challenges of the new century, and philosophers could and should play an important role."--Bill McKibben, author of *Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age* "The conversation about what we want -- literally -- to make of ourselves is probably the most important conversation human beings will ever have. This carefully considered book is a fine entry into that dialogue, and it comes not a moment too soon."--Bill McKibben, author of *Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age*

Series Forewordp. vii
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
Historical Perspectives
Nature, Technology, and the Emergence of Cybernetic Humanityp. 35
Nature and Human Naturep. 67
Life Sciences: Discontents and Consolationsp. 99
Genetic Engineering and Eugenics: The Uses of Historyp. 123
Embodiment and Self-Identity
The Body and the Quest for Controlp. 155
Visions and Re-visions: Life and the Accident of Birthp. 177
Aristotle and Genetic Engineering: The Uncertainty of Excellencep. 209
Freedom and Telos
Human Recency and Race: Molecular Anthropology, the Refigured Acheulean, and the UNESCO Response to Auschwitzp. 235
Human Nature in a Post-Human Genome Project Worldp. 269
Telos, Value, and Genetic Engineeringp. 317
Social and Political Critiques
Nature, Sin, and Societyp. 339
Human Genetic Intervention: Past, Present, and Futurep. 367
Resistance Is Futile: The Posthuman Condition and Its Advocatesp. 385
Contributorsp. 413
Indexp. 415
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780262524285
ISBN-10: 0262524287
Series: Basic Bioethics
Audience: Professional
For Ages: 18+ years old
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 440
Published: 1st October 2004
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.9 x 15.2  x 2.5
Weight (kg): 0.59