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The Harms of Enhancement and the Conclusive Reasons View

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Abstract:

Many critics of bioenhancement go to considerable lengths to establish the existence of reasons against pursuing bioenhancements but do little to establish the absence of reasons in favor. This suggests that they accept what Allen Buchanan has called the conclusive reasons view (CRV). According to this view, our reasons against bioenhancement are obviously decisive, so there is no need to balance them against countervailing reasons. Buchanan criticizes the CRV by showing that the reasons most commonly adduced against bioenhancement are not decisive, or, at least, not obviously so.

In this article, I suggest that both Buchanan and the authors to whom he is responding underestimate the strength of the case for the CRV. There are, I argue, harm-based reasons against bioenhancement that provide stronger support to the CRV than the reasons that have most often been adduced by critics of enhancement. However, I then argue that even these harm-based reasons are not obviously decisive. Thus, I ultimately agree with Buchanan about the falsity of the CRV, though I disagree with him about the reasons for its falsity.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
  • ISSN: 0963-1801
  • EISSN: 1469-2147
  • URL: /core/journals/cambridge-quarterly-of-healthcare-ethics
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