Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Evaluating the Posthuman Future – Some Philosophical Problems

  • Søren Holm (a1) (a2) (a3)

Abstract

Imagining a future scenario where human beings have evolved in ways so that they are no longer human but post- or transhuman has been a recurrent trope in science fiction literature since the very inception of the genre. More recently, the possibility of a future including posthumans has received significant philosophical attention due to the emergence of activist ‘transhumanism’. This paper will analyse some of the philosophical problems in evaluating whether a posthuman future is a good future that we ought to pursue. It will first briefly describe the transhumanist conception of the posthuman, and the different routes envisaged from the current human condition to the future posthuman condition. The second part will then present and analyse some fundamental philosophical problems we encounter when we try to assess whether and to what extent the posthuman future is good and/or desirable; and it will be concluded that assessing the ethical desirability of the posthuman future is close to impossible.

Copyright

References

Hide All
1.I will discuss the possible distinction between post- and transhumans below, but for ease of reference use the term ’posthuman’ to cover both in this paper.
2. Wells, H. G. (1895) The Time Machine (London: William Heinemann).
3. Bear, G. (2000) Darwin’s Radio (London: Ballantine Books).
4. Clarke, A. C. (1953) Childhood’s End (London: Ballantine Books).
7. More, M. and Vita-More, N. (eds) (2013) The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future (Chichester: Wiley).
8. Wikler, D. (2009) Paternalism in the age of cognitive enhancement: do civil liberties presuppose roughly equal mental ability? In: J. Savulescu and N Bostrom (eds), Human Enhancement (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 341355.
9. van Niekerk, A. A. (2014) After humanity? Philosophical and moral perspectives on the idea of posthumanity. Studies in Sociology of Science, 5(2), pp. 119124.
10. Bostrom, N. (2009) The future of humanity. Geopolitics, History, and International Relations, 1(2), pp. 6178.
11. Bostrom, N. (2005) A history of transhumanist thought. Journal of Evolution and Technology, 14(1), pp. 125.
12. Harle, R. F. (2002) Cyborgs, uploading and immortality—Some serious concerns. Sophia, 41(2), pp. 7385.
13. Merkle, R. C. (2013) Uploading. In: M. More and N. Vita-More (eds), The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future (Chichester: Wiley), pp. 157164.
14. Vinge, V. (1983) First word. Omni, 10 available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/87913776@N00/7113330247/
15. Vinge, V. (1993) The Coming Technological Singularity: How to Survive in the Post-human Era. http://ntrs.nasa.gov/search.jsp?R=19940022856
16. Kurzweil, R. (2005) The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (London: Penguin).
17. Sandberg, A. (2013) An overview of models of technological singularity. In: M. More and N. Vita-More (eds), The Transhumanist Reader: Classical and Contemporary Essays on the Science, Technology, and Philosophy of the Human Future (Chichester: Wiley), pp. 376394.
18.We will here ignore questions about whether the gender binary will be perpetuated in the posthuman condition.
19. Savulescu, J. (2005) New breeds of humans: the moral obligation to enhance. Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 10, pp. 3639.
20. Wittgenstein, L. (2009) Philosophical Investigations (4th edn) (Oxford: Blackwell).
21. Holm, S. (2007) Naturalness and anthropology in modern bioethics, with a special view to trans- and post-humanism. In: H. Kragh (ed.), Theology and Science – Issues for Future Dialogue (Aarhus: University of Aarhus), pp. 1729.
22. Buchanan, A. (2009) Human nature and enhancement. Bioethics, 23(3), pp. 141150.
23. Boulle, P. (1963) Planet of the Apes (New York: Vanguard Press).
24. Smart, J. J. C. and Williams, B. (1973) Utilitarianism: For and Against (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
25. Rawls, J. (2009) A Theory of Justice (rev. edn) (Boston: Harvard University Press).
26. Cole-Turner, R (2012) The singularity and the rapture: transhumanist and popular Christian views of the future. Zygon, 47(4), pp. 777796.
27. Zimmerman, M. (2008) The singularity: a crucial phase in divine self-actualization? Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 4(1–2), pp. 347370.
28. Bostrom, N. and Ord, T. (2006) The reversal test: eliminating status quo bias in applied ethics. Ethics, 116(4), pp. 656679.

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed