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Iron Man vs Aristotle: Transhumanism, the Limits of Human Nature and the Politics of Prescription Eyeglasses

21-01-2020 09:50

Alkis Gounaris and Panos Chrysopoulos
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Department of Philosophy

Abstract: When we talk about enhancement or modifying the human body, we often put forward the argument of the limits of human nature, and therefore, acts that violate those limits are judged negatively. This view, however, contains assumptions that lead to logical fallacies. In the face of the new era, where scientific and technological achievements are changing human capabilities, we will increasingly be confronted with ethical dilemmas as well as dilemmas at a practical, political and institutional level.
As a guide when dealing with such dilemmas, in this article we will firstly attempt to free ourselves from the logical fallacy of resorting to the argument of violating the limits of human nature, and secondly to see how the prevailing ethical and political stances address the dilemmas associated with human enhancement. For illustration purposes we will adopt two points of view: Iron Man's and Aristotle's.
The first one focuses on human potential, free will and individual rights. The second one focuses on social purpose, social justice and human eudaimonia within the community. Both viewpoints set criteria and conditions for the enhancement and improvement of human nature, but fail to provide a satisfactory answer that could act as a rule in practical terms, so that a future legislator can take a clear stand on these issues.
A safe and at the same time practical approach would be to think beyond personal volition and social purpose, with a general perspective that will help us exculpate and stop demonizing human enhancement. Could there be a minimum “eligibility” condition, according to which any enhancement that satisfies it, could be legitimized in the future? On the way to this quest, it is our duty to approach without fear but with prudence, self-restraint, respect and care for mankind and our fellow man, the inevitable, immediate future that is now visible in front of us.

Keywords: Human Nature, Transhumanism, Ethics and Politics of Enhancement, Libertarianism, Liberalism, Communitarianism

Gounaris, A., Chrysopoulos, P. (2019). Iron Man vs Aristotle: Transhumanism, the Limits of Human Nature and the Politics of Prescription Eyeglasses. Theologia. Official Journal of the Church of Greece. v.90.3 pp. 121 – 161. Retrieved 22/01/2020 from https://alkisgounaris.gr/en/archives/iron-man-vs-aristotle-transhumanism-the-limits-of-human-nature-and-the-politics-of-prescription-eyeglasses/

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