This Article outlines some of the moral, legal, and general policy difficulties that societies and individuals will face if technological enhancements via germ line and somatic mechanisms become possible. It identifies and analyzes some of the conceptual structures necessary to explain the nature of these difficulties, suggests some alternative basic scenarios—such as greater or lesser scarcity of technological enhancement resources, impacts on how we perceive each other, and different remediation patterns—and then maps and reverse maps the projected technological developments against the value and legal structures. This Article also describes and comments on what may seem to be, from our present value standpoints, the most critical threats and promises of the anticipated changes, and it also inquires into what might be the fate of these very standpoints themselves. The idea of enhancement is compared to other processes of human change, principally to the familiar forms of self-progress and the practices of treating disorders, injuries, and the like. Questions are raised about the very significance of these distinctions as rational authorizing and limiting tools that might guide us in distinguishing among permissible and impermissible interventions and among obligatory and nonobligatory ones.
Michael H. Shapiro,
Does Technological Enhancement of Human Traits Threaten Human Equality and Democracy?,
San Diego L. Rev.
Available at: https://digital.sandiego.edu/sdlr/vol39/iss3/11