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Enhancing Evolution:
The Ethical Case for Making Better People
John Harris

Hardcover | 2007 | This edition is out of print | ISBN: 9780691128443

Reviews | Table of Contents
Introduction [PDF]

Also available in paperback

Decisive biotechnological interventions in the lottery of human life--to enhance our bodies and brains and perhaps irreversibly change our genetic makeup--have been widely rejected as unethical and undesirable, and have often met with extreme hostility. But in Enhancing Evolution, leading bioethicist John Harris dismantles objections to genetic engineering, stem-cell research, designer babies, and cloning to make a forthright, sweeping, and rigorous ethical case for using biotechnology to improve human life.

Human enhancement, Harris argues, is a good thing--good morally, good for individuals, good as social policy, and good for a genetic heritage that needs serious improvement. Enhancing Evolution defends biotechnological interventions that could allow us to live longer, healthier, and even happier lives by, for example, providing us with immunity from cancer and HIV/AIDS. But the book advocates far more than therapies designed to free us from sickness and disability. Harris champions the possibility of influencing the very course of evolution to give us increased mental and physical powers--from reasoning, concentration, and memory to strength, stamina, and reaction speed. Indeed, he supports enhancing ourselves in almost any way we desire. And it's not only morally defensible to enhance ourselves, Harris says. In some cases, it's morally obligatory.

Whether one looks upon biotechnology with hope, fear, or a little of both, Enhancing Evolution makes a case for it that no one can ignore.


"A persuasive case that today's biotechnologies...are on the continuum of an age-long pursuit by humans to improve themselves."--Judy Illes, Nature

"John Harris...assumes not only that biotechnological enhancement is going to happen but that we have a moral obligation to make it happen."--Scientific American

"[Harris] challenges conventional thinking about genetic engineering, stem-cell research, designer children and other concepts that make most people uneasy."--Richard Halicks, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"[Harris] is warmly enthusiastic about the possibilities; moreover he is unshakably convinced that all human beings, given that they are capable of moral sense, have a duty not only to make things better for people, but to make people better as well....It is a pleasure to read a book that is so jolly about the future of mankind."--Mary Warnock, THES

"[A] fine contribution to clear thinking and cogent argument in a field where these commodities have been in short supply."--Arthur Schafer, The Globe and Mail

"Professor Harris uses his philosophical skills very effectively to expose public confusion."--Robin Gill, Church Times

"This provocative book is a valuable retort to those who would summon the ghost of Frankenstein's monster at the first sight of a test tube."--Stephen Cave, Financial Times

"[Harris] raises the stakes. Harris argues that humanity has been evolving biologically for millennia, and that those who believe we should forego the opportunity to evolve further through the use of genetic technology are 'making a fetish of a particular evolutionary stage."--Richard Hayes, The American Interest

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Table of Contents:

Foreword by Steve Rayner ix
Acknowledgments xv
Introduction 1
Chapter 1: Has Humankind a Future? 8
Chapter 2: Enhancement Is a Moral Duty 19
Chapter 3: What Enhancements Are and Why They Matter 36
Chapter 4: Immortality 59
Chapter 5: Reproductive Choice and the Democratic Presumption 72
Chapter 6: Disability and Super-Ability 86
Chapter 7: Perfection and the Blue Guitar 109
Chapter 8: Good and Bad Uses of Technology 123
Chapter 9: Designer Children 143
Chapter 10: The Irredeemable Paradox of the Embryo 160
Chapter 11: The Obligation to Pursue and Participate in Research 184
Notes 207
Bibliography 227
Index 239

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File created: 3/28/2014

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