Skip to main content
×
×
Home

We Must Create Beings with Moral Standing Superior to Our Own

  • VOJIN RAKIĆ
Abstract:

Several lines of reasoning have been employed to both approve and disapprove two of Nicholas Agar’s positions: his argument that the creation of postpersons (based on moral status enhancement) is imaginable and possible and his inductive argument disfavoring the creation of postpersons. This article discusses a number of these lines of reasoning, arguing that1)

The creation of postpersons is imaginable if they are envisaged as morally enhanced beings.

2)

The creation of postpersons is justified, subject to the condition that we create morally enhanced postpersons.

The reason given for the first point is that it is possible to imagine postpersons who are morally enhanced, provided that we consider moral enhancement as an augmented inclination to act in line with how we believe we ought to act. There are two reasons offered for the second point: the first indicates probability, and the second offers proof. That is, if we assume that the higher moral status of postpersons implies their enhanced morality, we can conclude, inductively, that (morally enhanced) postpersons will not be inclined to annihilate mere persons. For if mere persons have moral inhibitions against obliterating some species of a lower moral status than their own, morally enhanced postpersons will be even less likely to do the same to mere persons. In fact, they might consider it their moral duty to preserve those beings who enabled them to come into existence. Moreover, even if morally enhanced postpersons decide to annihilate mere persons, we can conclude, deductively, that such a decision is by necessity a morally superior stance to the wish of mere persons (i.e., morally unenhanced persons) to continue to exist.

Copyright
References
Hide All

Notes

1. Agar, N. Why is it possible to enhance moral status and why doing so is wrong? Journal of Medical Ethics 2013;39:6774.

2. To this definition I add the proviso that some currently existing humans do not satisfy the criteria for personhood.

3. Sparrow agrees with Agar in that regard.

4. Hauskeller, M. The moral status of post-persons. Journal of Medical Ethics 2013;39(2):76–7, and Wasserman, D. Devoured by our own children: The possibility and peril of moral status enhancement. Journal of Medical Ethics 2013;39(2):78–9.

5. Persson, I. Is Agar biased against “post-persons”? Journal of Medical Ethics 2013;39(2):77–8, and Douglas, T. The harms of status enhancement could be compensated or outweighed: A response to Agar. Journal of Medical Ethics 2013;39(2):75–6.

6. See note 1, Agar 2013, at 72.

7. Agar discusses the “inexpressibility problem” as follows: “It is an implication of accounts that make a cognitive capacity, or collection of such capacities, constitutive of moral status, that those who do not satisfy the criteria for a given status find these criteria impossible to adequately describe” (see note 1, Agar 2013, at 69).

8. See note 1, Agar 2013, at 69.

9. Agar, N. Still afraid of needy post-persons? Journal of Medical Ethics 2013;39(2):81–4, at 81.

10. See Powell, R. The biomedical enhancement of moral status. Journal of Medical Ethics 2013;39(2):65–6.

11. Rakić, V. Voluntary moral enhancement and the survival-at-any-cost bias. Journal of Medical Ethics 2014;40(4):246–50, at 248.

12. However, it is not inconceivable that, as we approach the required technologies in the future, be they of the pharmacological, biotechnological, nanotechnological, or artificial-intelligence variety, we might become aware of other criteria for postpersonhood.

13. Cf., Rakić V. From cognitive to moral enhancement: A possible reconciliation of religious outlooks and the biotechnological creation of a better human. Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies 2012;11(31):113–28. And see note 11, Rakić 2014.

14. See note 11, Rakić 2014.

15. See note 5, Persson 2013.

16. See note 5, Douglas 2013.

17. I am indebted here to John Harris, who disagreed with me on this during a conversation. My argument was the following: One might attempt to make a comparison between a postperson who was voluntarily created by mere persons and a human who came into existence as a result of her mother having been raped (and who would not feel she is morally indebted to her mother). However, this comparison contains an important disanalogy in that the latter’s mother did not decide to bring her into existence, whereas in our argumentation mere persons are the ones who voluntarily opt for the creation of postpersons.

18. Agar, N. We must not create beings with moral status superior to our own. Journal of Medical Ethics 2013;39(11):709. The title of the present article asserts the opposite of the title of Agar’s article: we must create beings with moral status superior to our own.

19. For my argument against the “survival-at-any-cost bias,” see note 11, Rakić 2014. For a reply to my argument, see Persson I, Savulescu J. Should moral bioenhancement be compulsory? Reply to Vojin, Rakic. Journal of Medical Ethics 2014;40(4):251–2, as well as Selgelid, M. Freedom and moral enhancement. Journal of Medical Ethics 2014;40(4):215–16.

20. That is to say, the wish that our species will survive is morally dubious, for example, if its implication is that the state, in order to avoid ultimate harm, deprives humans of their freedom by imposing moral bioenhancement.

21. I am indebted to Nicholas Agar and Rob Sparrow for a discussion we had about this.

22. This argument is contrary to the claim in Agar 2013, at 67 (see note 1).

23. See note 18, Agar 2013.

This article has been published in the framework of a project that is being funded by the Serbian Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development (project # 41004, relevant subproject realized at the Institute for Social Sciences in Belgrade). A number of issues that are taken up in the text I have discussed with Julian Savulescu, Ingmar Persson, John Harris, Nick Agar, Rob Sparrow, Thomasine Kushner, Milan Ćirković, and Mary Rorty. I would like to express my thanks to all of them for their useful comments.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
  • ISSN: 0963-1801
  • EISSN: 1469-2147
  • URL: /core/journals/cambridge-quarterly-of-healthcare-ethics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 36 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 244 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 15th August 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.