In Enhancing Evolution, leading bioethicist John Harris dismantles objections to genetic engineering, stem-cell research, designer babies, and cloning and makes an ethical case for biotechnology that is both forthright and rigorous. 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. Further, 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 says, it’s not only morally defensible to enhance ourselves; in some cases, it’s morally obligatory.
In a new preface, Harris offers a glimpse at the new science and technology to come, equipping readers with the knowledge to assess the ethics and policy dimensions of future forms of human enhancement.
John Harris is the Lord David Alliance Professor of Bioethics at the University of Manchester School of Law, joint editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medical Ethics, and a member of Britain's Human Genetics Commission. His many books include On Cloning and Clones, Genes, and Immortality.
"John Harris has an enormous reputation in bioethics for his adroit, acerbic, dead-on argumentation, his ingenuity at undermining familiar but flaccid argument, his immense imaginative capacities, and his skewering wit. These are rare qualities in an often goody-goody field like bioethics, and his intellectual skills earn him real respect. His philosophical work is an exploration, as he puts it, of our shared responsibility to make the world a better place. Enhancing Evolution is an ample demonstration of this work at its best."—Margaret P. Battin, University of Utah
"John Harris can be depended on to sharply challenge conventional thinking in bioethics, especially when that thinking takes a conservative cast. He does not disappoint here. Harris shows how deep-seated a part of human history enhancement is and how weak most objections to it are; indeed, he makes a persuasive case that it is not only generally morally permissible, but often morally required."—Dan W. Brock, director of the Division of Medical Ethics, Harvard Medical School
"John Harris's writings are always provocative as well as superbly reasoned. In this latest book, he succeeds in demolishing the arguments of those who claim that enhancements are a threat to humankind."—Ruth Macklin, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
"Enhancing Evolution is a pleasure to read and an important contribution to bioethics. Against writers such as Leon Kass, Michael Sandel, and Jürgen Habermas, John Harris argues for using genetic and other technologies to improve and extend human life, and even to design and clone humans. Whether or not one shares his optimism that humans are wise, prudent, or moral enough to use technology to benefit humankind, his cogent and elegantly expressed arguments must be taken seriously."—Bonnie Steinbock, University of Albany
"Over his illustrious career, John Harris has explored the most challenging bioethical questions with insight, engaging wit, and eloquence. In Enhancing Evolution, Harris does it again. He argues that it is not just an option but an obligation for people to use available biomedical technologies to enhance their own—and their children's—physical and mental abilities. Harris rightly deserves his reputation for fearlessly following his ethical arguments wherever they lead."—Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D.
"Full of witty arguments, Enhancing Evolution is a powerful response to concerns about human enhancement and genetic selection. It is also a deep, enlightening, and delightful (often hilarious) philosophical read. Scholars studying these topics, as well as the status of embryos and research on human subjects, would be wise to give Harris's arguments serious consideration."—Nir Eyal, Harvard Medical School
"Enhancing Evolution is the most comprehensive, robust defense of human enhancement in the literature to date. Harris blends more than fifteen years of work on human enhancement into a single volume and mixes in new arguments that definitively make the pro case for enhancement. The bioconservatives are in retreat. Harris has now set the agenda for the future of humankind. This will be the locus classicus for the enhancement debate."—Julian Savulescu, University of Oxford