The Instigator
neilalwayswins
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
Spotchman
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Human augmentation is morally permissible

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/23/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,041 times Debate No: 27458
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (5)
Votes (0)

 

neilalwayswins

Pro

In this debate I will argue that human augmentation (enhancement) is not only morally acceptable but beneficial to the human race. For the sake of time and sanity human enhancement will be defined as,

"Human enhancement refers to any attempt to temporarily or permanently overcome the current limitations of the human body through natural or artificial means. The term is sometimes applied to the use of technological means to select or alter human characteristics and capacities, whether or not the alteration results in characteristics and capacities that lie beyond the existing human range."

The only request I have is that conduct be kept peaceful and free of rudeness and or profanity.
Spotchman

Con

I thank my opponent for opening this debate. Pro wishes to start the debate, so I will not post any arguments for the first round. I will mostly be arguing about the amount of danger involved in human augmentation.
Debate Round No. 1
neilalwayswins

Pro

This is a incredibly complex topic so let us get started.

Human augmentation (enhancement) is not only the inevitable next step in our human evolution but it is also morally sound to encourage this development. This fusion of genetic and mechanical technology will allow humanity as a whole to overcome the limitations of our own biology. Listed under here I will provide the reasons for my claims.

I. Human enhancement technologies will allow us to transcend our biological limitations.

There is no doubt that a human being in and of itself is a miraculous fusion of biology. Our biological systems are mind bogglingly complex, intricate and highly sophisticated. The average human being contains impressive biological defense mechanisms including an immune system that wards off hostile infections and diseases. However the human body is hardly perfect and the modern technologies of our time (especially in the field of warfare and terrorism) have learned that the human body is indeed not very resilient. With the invention of weapons of mass destruction the human body has become stunningly incapable of handling many of the new weapons devised to exploit our biology to an often fatal end. This is especially true in the development of germ (biological) warfare. Everyday new strains of deadly diseases and viruses are created in labs that make the human body extremely ineffective at not only resisting them but also being able to stop the strain spreading to other human beings.

Even with the onset of devastating forms of new warfare the human body suffers from a variety of genetic defects (disorders) usually brought about by accident or by biological error to no fault of the individual. Three categories of these defects so far exist in the scientific realm. It is estimated that the human body is vulnerable to over 4,192 different types of human diseases brought on by biological error. They include ...

* Single-gene defects
* Chromosomal disorders
* Multifactorial


With this in mind it only becomes logical that humanity needs develops additional methods to combat our often flawed biology. The inclusion of new and existing human enhancement would allow us to make these weaknesses irrelevant. Enhancements in reproduction, physiology, and mental states would allow us to overcome our limited biology and perhaps even allow us to resist weapons engineered to exploit our biology.


II. Human enhancement will increase the standard of living for individuals and society.

The future of human enhancement also brings the promise of improved cognition. The ability to learn more faster and to remember it all creates intriguing possibilities. New discoveries over the last 30 years about how memory works have led to a new of drugs called ampakines. These drugs assist in learning and memory and have fewer side effects than other stimulants. They are currently being used to treat memory loss in the early stages of Alzheimer and Parkinson disease, but the potential exists for individuals without memory impediments to use the drug to enhance their learning capacities.
Imagine the American employee transferred overseas to a country where she does not know the language; it may simply be a matter of taking a pill to learn the tongue of her new colleagues and neighbors. The introduction of NBIC technologies also portends neural implants that will both improve cognition and interface with external electronics such as cell phones and computers. These breakthroughs will enable us to use our minds more efficiently and effectively.


With these two points made I rest my case. The con has the floor.

Sources:
http://www.wtec.org...
http://www.thehastingscenter.org...
http://jem.rupress.org...



Spotchman

Con

To be clear, I will not be arguing that all human augmentation (HA from now on for convenience) is not morally permissable, merely that "any attempt to temporarily or permanently overcome the current limitations of the human body through natural or artificial means, [including] the use of technological means to select or alter human characteristics and capacities, whether or not the alteration results in characteristics and capacities that lie beyond the existing human range" is not necessarily always morally permissible. This is going to be a pretty vague argument, and that's largely due to the fact that we, by definition, have no idea what we're talking about. Human augmentation is a very wide field with a wide range of unknown beneficial discoveries, negative consequences, and risks.

Risks are a large point on which my arguments will rest. It has been said that, in the act of trying to cure a disease, we might end up making it stronger, resulting in powerful, highly contaigous strains that are immune to all antibiotics and could possibly wipe out the human race, start a zombie apocalypse, or worse. I'm sort of joking, but even if a less powerful, but still notable, strain were to arise, we could lose a serious amount of human life, much more than we would have if we had been super-careful or just left it alone. This reasoning is based on strains of infections and diseases which are immune to penicillinand/or other antibiotics, and therefore harder to treat, and this is due to our own interference [1].

Another concern is that Pro's definition of HA does not imply consent in any way. In an extreme example, Pro's definition could include murder in the form of ritual killing/mummification/whatever, as long as the killer is attempting to achieve something currently unachievable by the human body (such as stretching the researcher's ex from 6 Main St. to 394 Main St.). I'm probably being pretty nipicky, and I'm sure Pro didn't intend his definition to include giving someone fatal levels of water hemlock to improve their resistance to coniine, but it raises an important question regarding what counts as consent. To give consent, a being must be conscious, well-informed, and positive in their stance, but is anyone well-informed about HA? Should the reasserchers be held accountable if they withhold treatment information from the test subject, which results in death or serious injury? Should the test subject be spared from having to know all of the technical details about the experiment that are necessary in order to be well-informed? How sure do the researchers have to be that the experimentation will not result in loss of life?

Another, perhaps more reasonable, line of logic is that Con's definition definitely includes cosmetic surgery. While a very reasonable argument can be made for HA for the purposes of stopping down's syndrome and colorblindness, for example, is it really morally permissible to risk life and limb, quite literally, for the purpose of cosmetic betterment? There are certainly people who will sign up to have their bodies mutilated to have breasts the size of watermelons, or to have facial perfection at the cost of being able to breathe comfortably, as there are already people getting skin cancer from tanning booths. But should we really let people destroy their bodies like that when they and the researchers don't know the consequences? One could make the argument that we should let people screw up their bodies however they please, but when the government is paying to fix their bodies through state-funded health insurance, should we really sacrifice taxpayer dollars for the purpose of fixing the effects of a research team trying to give a news anchor wider hips?

Pro's reasoning may be somewhat sound, but his definition certainly needs to be tightened, possibly to a level that is not possible, given what we know about HA and its possible effects on human welfare.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...;
Debate Round No. 2
neilalwayswins

Pro

Thank-you for the response.

The con does a great job of explaining his points even if they are somewhat vague at times.

The con states that the large part of the reason why human enhancement is not morally permissible is because of the risks associated with such practices. He notes that the human potential to cause unintentional (or even intentional) destruction through ariticical means is rather great. Another critical point he makes as well is the idea that the definition given above does not imply human consent. In this debate however I will clarify immediately that all human augmentation (regarding all manner of practices associated with it) must indeed be met with absolute consent so as to not muddle the issue further.

The con states assertively that,

"But should we really let people destroy their bodies like that when they and the researchers don't know the consequences? One could make the argument that we should let people screw up their bodies however they please, but when the government is paying to fix their bodies through state-funded health insurance, should we really sacrifice taxpayer dollars for the purpose of fixing the effects of a research team trying to give a news anchor wider hips?

Although you beg the question here I will respond to it anyway. The problem with a statement like that is that human enhancement technology would indeed be governed by government agencies to ensure ethical and sound augmentation practices. Unsafe or even outright harmful practices would therefore be banned in order to ensure that issue does not reach any potential hazard and also who says taxpayers have to compensate for a patients poor choice in augmentation? Laws that prohibit such irrational decisions can easily be put in place by legislation.

The biggest problem with the arguments you make is the fact that society and government does indeed evolve with the growth and adaption of new and beneficial technologies. Proper legislation with efficient regulatory practices would make this issue non existent and as the technology becomes more and more available the issue of this technology adapting to our bodies and fitting in with society will become more and more commonplace. I will not lie or avoid the issue that risks are involved with such enhancement technologies however the incredible potential to transcend our biology and other limitations make this something that humanity can only benefit from in the end.







Spotchman

Con

Pro gave a very clear and logical response. He clarified his definition's consent issue, but I find fault with his clarfifcation. The fault is that it's not morally permissible to let someone do something for which no one knows the consequences. For example, we often test certain practices on animals to test whether they are safe. However, Pro's resolution and definition do not prohibit skipping this step and just testing things on people.

Pro accuses me of begging the question in my logic. I request that he clarifies why he thinks this, because I think that my logic is sound (or at least free of this type of fallacy.)

Pro also asserts that laws can be put in place to ensure that unsafe and harmful practices do not happen. The problem with this is that there are certain types of augmentation that are inherently dangerous and/or harmful. For example, using cancer-causing compounds in breast augmentation. Banning such practices would interfere with the resolution.

Pro's main argument is that human augmentation has the potential to transcend the current limitations of the human body. I don't argue against this, and I feel that some sacrifices can justifiably be made for the sake of curing diseases, repairing bodies, etc. However, much of human augmenation is done for cosmetic purposes. How can one justify taking huge risks for the sole purpose of giving someone bigger breasts or smaller feet or longer legs?

Pro does a great job arguing his points and I cannot wait for him to post his argument for round 4.
Debate Round No. 3
neilalwayswins

Pro

neilalwayswins forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
neilalwayswins

Pro

neilalwayswins forfeited this round.
Spotchman

Con

It was a pair of, pair of
pair of dice
rooooooooll
Debate Round No. 5
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Spotchman 4 years ago
Spotchman
I disagree, but whatevs.
Posted by neilalwayswins 4 years ago
neilalwayswins
Well since I am making the positive argument it really falls on me :)
Posted by Spotchman 4 years ago
Spotchman
Really? You have your first argument worked out already? I figured I should start because I have the BOP, but if you want me to just accept, that's fine, too.
Posted by neilalwayswins 4 years ago
neilalwayswins
Spotch you can put whatever you want for the first round slot. An introduction is all that is necessary. :)
Posted by TheElderScroll 4 years ago
TheElderScroll
Would biologic reconstruction (Video Game Biohazard/Resident Evil for example) be a part of the definition ?
No votes have been placed for this debate.