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Maynooth Philosophical Papers

Volume 10, 2020

Jeffrey P. Bishop
Pages 135-149

Building Moral Brains
Moral Bioenhancement and the Being of Technology

Technology is evolving at a rate faster than human evolution, especially human moral evolution. There are those who claim that we must morally bioenhance the human due to existential threats (such as climate change and the looming possibility of cognitive enhancement) and due to the fact that the human animal has a weak moral will. To address these existential threats, we must design human morality into human beings technologically. By moral bioenhancement, these authors mean that we must intervene technologically in the biology of the human animal in order to get it to behave morally to address these existential threats. I will bring the idea of moral bioenhancement into conversation with two philosophers of technology. Bernard Stiegler has argued that technology and culture, and thus technology and human beings, have always evolved hand in hand. Peter-Paul Verbeek notes that we have always designed morality into technology, and thus he sees technology as mediating human morality. When we offload human intentionality onto technology, Verbeek argues, technological objects and systems participate in shaping the moral subjectivity of the human actor. I will show that modern technological bioenhancement obliterates human being. Whereas in the past, human culture was handed from generation to generation through the mediation of technology, in the modern era, the human becomes the raw material upon which a technological will (imperative) rides.

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