Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology. Revolution (review) . Michael Kazin. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Volume 47, Number 1. “Stunning The genius of Our Posthuman Future is that it brings home just how important [these issues] will be in our immediate future for ordinary people. In Our Posthuman Future, one of our greatest social philosophers begins to describe the potential effects of genetic exploration on the foundation of liberal.
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Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution. By Francis Fukuyama. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. $ xiii p; ill.;. Request PDF on ResearchGate | On Jan 1, , G. John Ikenberry and others published Our Posthuman Future. OUR POSTHUMAN FUTURE. CONSEQUENCES OF THE BIOTECHNOLOGY. REVOLUTION. By Francis Fukuyama. FARRAR, STRAUS AND GIROUX.
Perspectives in Biology and Medicine Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution. By Francis Fukuyama. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, History, concedes Francis Fukuyama, is not coming to an end after all—and irresponsible science is the major reason why. Fukuyama's celebrated article and subsequent book about the "end of history" argued that clashes between different systems, ideologies, and civilizations were fast losing their potency and might soon cease altogether.
While a lucid synthesizer of current developments, he is, after all, a social philosopher, not a research scientist. Fukuyama's critique of biotechnology revolves around his definition and defense of "human nature. More significantly, he argues that humans "have been wired by evolution to be social creatures who naturally seek to embed themselves in a host of communal relationships" For evidence, he cites the deep structures of language and the prohibition of murder against members of one's own cultural group.
It is because genetic engineering and its ancillary technologies can transcend these limits and destroy these bonds that Fukuyama believes they are so dangerous.
He scorns thinkers on the scientific left, such as Richard Lewontin, who believe that human behavior is socially constructed and who would base the control of biotechnology on a defense of human rights instead of human nature.
Fukuyama claims that a philosophical reliance on rights—following the Enlightenment tradition stretching from Locke and Kant to John Rawls and Ronald Dworkin—too easily slides into an amoral defense of the individual's freedom to clone herself if she so chooses.
Far better, writes Fukuyama, to rely on biological norms to stave off a biological dystopia. In the 20th century, the belief in an unalterable human nature legitimized a host of discriminatory and sometimes genocidal measures—based on ethnicity, gender, national origin, and physical disability.
Both the Nazis and the architects of Jim Crow swore they were only replacing an artificial egalitarianism with a "natural" hierarchy of races.
Fukuyama, of course, bases his own definition on characteristics he believes all humans have in common.
But as recently as , the authors of The Bell Curve deployed a unitary gauge of intelligence to contend that African-Americans were naturally inferior to other racial groups. Fukuyama devotes a rather lyrical chapter to the need for policies that cherish "human dignity. Perhaps, as Huxley suggests, something of our humanness is lost through the application of biotechnology, and Fukuyama tends to agree.
From this perspective, he sets out to demonstrate that the rampant and unchecked use of biotechnology poses some danger to our humanness.
Fukuyama examines several facets of the biotechnology revolution which he feels are causes for trepidation. The important point is not that these outcomes are inevitable; the problem is that they are both conceivable and plausible, and that there seems to be no coherent ethical- theoretical framework outside of the religious from which to address them.
Fukuyama finds the idea of a discoverable, innate human nature or essence most convincing, and makes a good argument that the positivistic-rights theorists actually do assume something about human nature, despite claims to the contrary, since positivistic rights can never be universal without some covert appeal to naturalism. He posits that perhaps the concept of rights itself is flawed.
The rights discourse concerning the state, for example, is preoccupied with protecting citizens from its potential abuses. Plato and Aristotle prefer to focus on the ideals of good statesmanship, justice and sagacious governance — of the state, and of oneself.
Rather than focusing on a rights discourse, which inevitably tends to be drawn towards the negative the need to protect from rather than the need to educate or strive towards , Fukuyama proposes that we could take a leaf from the Greeks and move toward a discourse centred on human needs and interests. In his opinion, the problem is not necessarily the technology itself.
The problematic is encountered when technology is applied by a secular society which would reject objections made on religious grounds, especially when that society is overly concerned with wealth and scientific progress, and is unburdened by ethical and moral questions raised outside of a positivist framework.
Religion is a source of these questions, but not the only one.
However, the scientific society may tend to lump all moralistic qualms together in the spiritual tent and dismiss them as superstitious, medieval, unscientific and outmoded. In such a society, attempts by the state to limit the pursuit of morally dubious avenues of technological development will be stymied by the lack of an alternative philosophical grounding in which to base them — a grounding which Fukuyama believes can be found in classical thought.
A problem with this analysis is that Fukuyama seems to fall into this positivist trap himself. Is it not possible that the source of our common human dignity is something undefinable, something that we can never pin down exactly or contrive some legal definition for but, to paraphrase Justice Potter Stewart, something that we can know when we see it?
Human essence might not even be found in being at all, but in a nonbeing that gives rise to human attributes — perhaps as nonbeing in Daoism is understood as a generative ontological space from which being appears, or as a nothing that hides behind the particular being-ness of humanity, as in Heideggerian thought.
Moreover, if it were a form in the Socratic tradition, would this not mean that individual humans would not possess respectability or dignity but only approach them — and to varying degrees?
A problem of a more practical inclination is that these arguments derived from Aristotle and countering Kantian notions of autonomy and rationality may end up rejecting autonomy and rationality entirely, as in the Aristotelian concept of natural slavery. This can even be transformed into an assault on the concept of innate human dignity and respectability that Fukuyama wants us to consider. In all of his prescriptions, one can find problems. Let us say that gerontology may indeed compound demographic problems as Fukuyama suggests.
Does he believe that the state either could or should tell the elderly that they cannot receive life-extending therapies because the world is just too crowded for them — and if not, has it occurred to him that others might use his arguments in just this way?