Will Biomedical Enhancements Undermine Solidarity, Responsibility, Equality and Autonomy?
Bioethics 2011 May; 25(4): 177-84
Prominent thinkers such as Jurgen Habermas and Michael Sandel are warning that biomedical enhancements will undermine fundamental political values. Yet whether biomedical enhancements will undermine such values depends on how biomedical enhancements will function, how they will be administered and to whom. Since only few enhancements are obtainable, it is difficult to tell whether these predictions are sound. Nevertheless, such warnings are extremely valuable. As a society we must, at the very least, be aware of developments that could have harmful consequences. Indeed, if important values were to be jeopardized, we should take appropriate measures to protect them. This paper focuses on four central values: solidarity, personal responsibility, equality and autonomy. It delineates the conditions under which biomedical enhancements would undermine these values. It also details the circumstances under which these values would be unaffected by enhancements as well as those under which they would be promoted. Specifying these conditions is valuable; it would enable society to prepare appropriate ethical guidelines and policy responses in advance.
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