Yet Another Set of Muddled Anti-Transhumanist Bioethics Musings

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Upwinger.

Over at the Vancouver Sun, McGill University bioethicist Margaret Somerville portentously asks, "At What Price, Immortality?" The price is, as usual, losing our very souls, ah, humanity. She notes that the prospect of much longer healthier lives is very attractive to many people. But Somerville dismisses transhumanism as "techno-utopian secular religion." Evidently, the old-time religion of dying at three score and ten is good enough for her and should be good enough for the rest of us. As she writes: 

Let me be clear. There is an enormous amount of good that can be achieved with our new technoscience, especially regenerative medicine. The issue is where we draw the line between ethical and unethical use of it. One approach I find helpful is to ask whether we are using it to repair nature when it fails or to do something that is impossible in nature. The former usually raises far fewer ethical concerns than the latter, although, of course, it's not the only relevant question in deciding on ethics. However, as I know from personal experience and criticism when I've used this approach, "transhumanists see the very concept of the specifically 'natural' as problematically nebulous at best, and an obstacle to progress at worst," and "the natural" as having no inherent moral value.

Evidently, Somervile doesn't believe in the naturalistic fallacy in which it is thought to be a mistake to try and define the concept 'good' in terms of some natural property. Somerville is suggesting that it is very likely immoral to improve upon what nature has given humanity.  

Somerville then argues: 

Another distinction that might help to distinguish ethical technoscience interventions from unethical ones is whether the intervention affects the intrinsic being or essence of a person—for instance, their sense of self or consciousness—or is external to that. The former, I propose, are always unethical, while the latter may not be….

…transhumanists do not accept that there is any "essential natural essence to being human" that must be respected, an essence that I believe we must hold on trust, untampered with, for future generations.

What is essential? In a column, How to Be Inhuman, I cited George Washington University philosopher David DeGrazia's work on allegedly inviolable human characteristics, including…

…internal psychological style, personality, general intelligence and memory, sleep, normal aging, gender, and being a member of the species Homo sapiens. He then systematically demolished various concerns that had been raised about each.

Regarding psychological style, there is no ethical reason to require that a particular person remain worried, suspicious, or downbeat if they want to change. As DeGrazia pointed out, psychotherapy already aims at such self-transformation. If a pill will make a person more confident and upbeat, then there is no reason for them not to use it if they wish. Personality is perhaps the external manifestation of one's internal psychological style, and here, too, it's hard to think of any ethical basis for requiring someone to remain cynical or excessively shy.

But what about boosting intelligence and memory? Of course, from childhood on, we are constantly exhorted to improve ourselves by taking more classes, participating in more job training, and reading good books. Opponents of biotech enhancements might counter that all of these methods of improvement manipulate our environments and do not reach to the genetic cores of our beings. DeGrazia points out that that the wiring of our brains is the result of the interaction between our genes and our environment. For example, our intellectual capacities depend on proper nutrition as well as on our genetic endowments. DeGrazia concludes that one's genome is not fundamentally more important than environmental factors. "They are equally important, so we should bear in mind that no one objects to deliberately introducing environmental factors [schools and diet] that promote intelligence," declares DeGrazia. It does not matter ethically whether one's intellectual capacities are boosted by schooling, a pill, or a set of genes.

All vertebrates sleep. Sleep, unlike cynicism, does seem biologically fundamental, but so what? Nature is not really a reliable source for ethical norms. If a person could safely reduce her need for sleep and enjoy more waking life, that wouldn't seem at all ethically problematic. I suspect that our ancestors without artificial light got a lot more sleep than we moderns do, yet history doesn't suggest that they were morally superior to us.

As everyone knows, the only inevitabilities are taxes and death. Death used to come far more frequently at younger ages, but globally average life expectancy has now risen from around 30 years in 1900 to about 66 years today. "Is normal aging an essential part of any recognizable human life?" asks DeGrazia. He falters here, admitting, "Frankly, I do not know how to determine whether aging is an inviolable characteristic." The question, then, is whether someone who does try to "violate" this characteristic by biotechnological means is acting unethically. It is hard to see why the answer would be yes. Such would-be immortals are not forcing other people to live or die, nor are they infringing on the rights and dignities of others. DeGrazia does recognize that biotech methods aimed at slowing or delaying aging significantly are not morally different from technologies that would boost intelligence or reduce the need for sleep. He concludes, "Even if aging is an inviolable core trait of human beings, living no more than a specified number of years is not."

In the age of transgendered people, it seems a bit outmoded to ask if one's biological sex is an inviolable core characteristic. Plenty of people have already eagerly violated it. Yet, the President's Council on Bioethics declared, "Every cell of the body marks us as either male or female, and it is hard to imagine any more fundamental or essential characteristic of a person." Clearly, thousands of people's fundamental sexual identities depend on more than the presence of an X or Y chromosome in their bodies' cells.

Finally, DeGrazia wonders if even being a member of the species Homo sapiens constitutes an inviolable core trait. He specifically thinks of a plausible future in which parents add an extra pair of artificial chromosomes carrying various beneficial genetic modifications to the genomes of the embryos that will become their children. Such people would have 48 chromosomes, which means that they could not reproduce with anyone who carries the normal 46 chromosomes. "It seems to me, however, that these individuals would still be 'human' in any sense that might be normatively important," concludes DeGrazia. I believe that DeGrazia is correct. After all, infertile people today are still fully human. Oddly, DeGrazia thinks that this "risk to reproductive capacities" might warrant restricting the installation of extra chromosomes to consenting adults only. But why should one think that a person with 48 chromosomes who falls in love with a person with only 46 chromosomes can't simply use advanced genetic engineering techniques to overcome that problem?

Somerville then drags out the hoary old designer baby argument propounded by the likes of C.S. Lewis and Jurgen Habermas: 

…a person designed by another is not free to become her authentic self, which is the essence of freedom, and not equal to the designer…

Philosopher Allen Buchanan points out [PDF] that this style of argument does not make it clear why a person who develops from a genetically enhanced embryo should feel that they are not the "author" of her life or be regarded as being somehow less free by others. Habermas [and Somerville] …

…is assuming that how one's genome was selected is relevant to one's moral status as a person. This error is no less fundamental than thinking that a person's pedigree – for example, whether she is of noble blood or 'base-born'—determines her moral status. 

Fortunately, our descendants will have at their disposal ever more powerful technologies and the benefit of our own experiences to guide them in their future reproductive and enhancement decisions.  In no sense are they prisoners of our decisions now.  Of course, there is one case in which future generations would be prisoners of our decisions now, and that's if we fearfully elect to deny them access to the benefits of biotechnology and safe genetic engineering.  The future will not be populated by robots who may look human but who are unable to choose for themselves their own destinies—genetic or otherwise. 

NEXT: McDonald's to Kids: Apple Slices For All, Whether or Not You Want Them

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  1. Fucking Bailey.

    Sign your name or I’ll automatically drop you one letter grade.

  2. I was going to comment, “Hey, Mr. Bailey, you forgot to sign your post.” But without the witty disclosure at the end of the post I can’t say with 100% certainty it’s him.

    1. Fully Disclosure: I had a blood orgy with the Koch-brothers that resulted in my ownership of some Bio-Transhumanist Corp stock.

    2. ACB & CMS: Server squirrels. Again.

      1. Someday, the editors and commenters will unite and overthrow their rodent supremacy and their creepy little handses, yes we will.

  3. So, it’s pretty safe to say that anyone who refers to themselves as a bioethicist is just a shitty person, yes?

    1. They belong to an ancient death cult. You’ll find a shrine to Thanatos in hidden spaces in each and everyone of their homes. ‘Bioethicist’ is just a psuedoscientific feign to give them a modern air. Necromancers, really.

      1. I like the ancient death cult angle! Nothing pisses me off more than some douche-nozzle arguing against using science/technology to expand or enable indefinite life spans.

        They’re not going to be forced to live longer than “nature” allows. Since they have some nebulous misgivings everyone should forgo any life extension technologies?

        I’ll take them seriously if they refuse any new life extending technologies. My guess is all but a small group will greedily swallow down whatever pills that are handed to them.

    2. What “bioethicist” really means is an idiot who can’t even see that all their whining about morality and immortality comes from centuries of books, stories, and movies that have almost monolithically portrayed even practical immortality as either immoral (the mad scientist uses children’s blood to stay immortal), evil (he was granted immortality by an evil god), or misguided (on noes, I thought I could become immortal but now I live forever in horrible pain!).

      It’s part of a human tendency to view immortality, since we could never have it, as shitty, therefore you don’t want it as much.

      It’s dumb, and these “bioethicists” all suffer from it. Such geniuses, they are.

      1. Really, just another way of saying bio-luddite.

        1. Well, I was thinking more “bio-superstitious-idiot”.

          1. Yes, and above, you forgot the part where it’s 100% okay (and even encouraged!) to be immortal as long as you get that way in exactly the right way. As a gift from the baby Jesus.

      2. It’s part of a human tendency to view immortality, since we could never have it, as shitty, therefore you don’t want it as much.

        An excellent point that needs to be made more often. It’s sort of a modern atheistic response to mortality.

        Instead of believing in God and an eternal afterlife, you just believe that immortality and eternal life wouldn’t be that great anyway. Different way of psychologically coming to grips with death.

        1. Bioethics is a realm where something feeling ooogy makes it wrong.

          People like to say that they would turn down immortality. Easy to say now. I suspect if you could convince them that you had a pill that would make them immortal you’d risk losing your hand.

  4. Thanks to Obama, I ignore anything after “Let me be clear” and think whoever said it is a total shit.

    1. I prefer the older version: “I want to make one thing perfectly clear…”

      1. Not to mention her dimwitted use of the term “technoscience”. Is that even a word? It sounds like a band name from the 80’s.

  5. One approach I find helpful is to ask whether we are using it to repair nature when it fails or to do something that is impossible in nature.

    Are you kidding? That is one of the least helpful questions you could ask. The only important question is: “Does it improve human life?”

    However, as I know from personal experience and criticism when I’ve used this approach, “transhumanists see the very concept of the specifically ‘natural’ as problematically nebulous at best, and an obstacle to progress at worst,” and “the natural” as having no inherent moral value.

    Damn skippy. Good for the transhumanists.

    1. Nature blows chunks. If nature had it’s way, we’d be fighting off starvation by picking roots and berries between saber toothed tiger attacks. We’re a technological species. Once you pick up a stone tipped spear you can’t really complain that something is unnatural. Well, you can. But you shouldn’t.

    2. Indeed, the distinction is nonsensical since anything we can do is inherently natural.

      1. well except for synthetics

  6. What a load of drivel.

    Clearly, thousands of people’s fundamental sexual identities depend on more than the presence of an X or Y chromosome in their bodies’ cells.

    One’s sex, however, is wholly determined by the presence of XX or XY chromosomes and their expression.

    One’s identity could be “dolphin that plays basketball well” which has nothing to do with the discussion at hand.

    1. Ye gods, is anything more boring than this gender identity claptrap? Male, female, hermaphrodite, period. What you want to pretend to be is a matter of total irrelevancy to what you are.

      Until we can genetically rebuild you. When we have the technology.

      1. The guy who draws xkcd was trying to gather info for something I don’t remember why and ended up asking “were you born with a Y chromosome” as a way of dodging all the identity politics.

        1. I think it was the color perception survey.

          Given that color perception is dependent on genes on the X chromosome that are absent from the Y chromosome, it was an important question that was well phrased.

  7. WTF is “technoscience”?

    1. It’s somewhere between hard trance and chillwave.

      1. and here I thought it was supposed to be scary and therefore closer to gabber.

      2. Awesome joke. Really, dynamite.

        1. Reading this it sounds kind of sarcastic. I assure you I found the chillwave/hard trance joke genuinely hilarious.

  8. Science is bad children, m’kay?

    It’s like the moralistic obsession with cloning. We’ve had clones around forever, they are known as identical twins.

    1. But…but…souls and stuff…

      1. Technically, twins are soulless.

        1. You know that. I know that. Warty knows that. But their parent’s don’t, and that’s how you end up with Bob and Mike Bryan’s winning streak. Oh wait, that’s because they sold their non-existent souls to the devil.

          1. That’ll teach the devil to negotiate with twins.

            1. The devil always gets played by tennis stars. It’s because he cares too much about the game, and is why playing an afternoon match with him is no fun. That guy is a really sore loser.

          2. That explains it as they’re shit singles players; they didn’t read the fine print in the bargain where it said, “but I will only help you in doubles; for singles you’ll have to rely solely on your talent.”

    2. Ex-wife had an identical twin. Easy to tell apart because my ex broke her sister’s nose when they were still in grade school. It actually makes her sister look adorable.

  9. She’s a homophobe too, so there’s that.

    She gets a lot of air time and interviews on the CBC, she is insufferable. Worshiping nature is part of the just world fallacy. Who’s to say our intelligence is not Nature’s way of accelerating evolution to the point we can spread life throughout the universe.

    1. Whose to say whether or not every blade of grass cries out for justice when it is mowed down. Wished it were so; mowing would be a lot less boring.

      1. That might actually get me out in the yard. Wait… no, I’d still pay a guy for that. I fucking hate yard work.

  10. Ron Bailey, the brain that would not die.

  11. McGill University bioethicist Margaret Somerville portentously asks, “At What Price, Immortality?”

    I had never heard of Margaret Somerville before. So based on the headline I immediately googled her name to see where she stood on abortion technology. It wasn’t what I first I expected (from a Canadian). She seems to be a Roman Catholic.

  12. God this article is annoying. The more I think about it, the more it bugs me. This Somerville woman has added all her fancy words and such, but she’s as bad as any country hick shouting “It goes agin’ nature! T’ain’t right!”

    The designer baby shit is so nonsense. No one has control of their genes at birth anyway. Gah.

    1. No one has control of their genes at birth anyway.

      Parents certainly do. Amniocentesis identifies generic birth defects within the womb.

      1. Sorry, I meant no person has control of their own genes before or at birth.

        1. Agreed.

          You threw me off when you said “The designer baby shit is so nonsense”.

          The fact is that parents and doctors do have some control over a baby’s genes. I don’t have a graph linky for this, but I’ll bet dollars to donuts that you’d find a downward trend in down’s syndrome babies being born in industrialized countries with no other explanation than the fetuses are being aborted base on information the parents have.

          1. Yeah, I know from the pregnancy that my wife has experienced that they screen for a ton of congenital disorders in utero now, and recommend termination when any really bad problems turn up, such as yes Down’s or spina bifida.

    2. If me and my wife collaborate to create a child, is our creative expression protectable? In other words, do we hold a copyright in our children? Can we sue them if they make derivative works (children) or copies (clones) without our prior consent?

      1. Might fall under fair use. Or what if they just slightly tweak the DNA, and call it a parody human?

        1. Fair use? Don’t be absurd. The work has legal rights?

      2. If me and my wife collaborate to create a child,

        You can make your own damn breakfast from here to eternity.

        1. Ha! As the real Mrs. Libertate is well aware, we’ve already collaborated.

      3. Arguably the only original work of the parents is the fertilized egg, since the embryo pretty much does everything by itself. On the other hand, you could argue that you have to apply for a license to use your own genes from your parents, since they made you (recursing backward to the oldest living generation).

        1. If we set the program into motion, we’ve created the resulting work.

    3. Don’ make fun uh my axscent.

  13. So, yeah, I saw this movie last night called ‘Womb’.

    Please do not bother watching it. It’s one of those horrible art house things where everyone stands around in bleak landscpaes looking sad, communicating entirely in long meaningful looks.

    But aside from the horrid film-making style, the premise and subject of the movie is appallingly stupid. It’s about a woman who has her dead lover, a childhood sweetheard cloned.

    The film makes a show of implying that clones would somehow be subject to discrimination in society, although there is no reason, currently to believe that they would be. Yet, in spite of this show of being the liberal tolerant perspective against ignorant bigots, the film then implies that nobody would have a clone without some twisted psychotic emotional problem, so that all clones would inevitably be raised by emotionally needy over-controlling parents. It’s actually making an anti-cloning argument while pretending to be open minded.

    In order for this to work, the central character in the film has to believe that clones are no different from normal human beings, yet simultaneously be psychotically (in a silent, meaningful way) obsessed with raising her dead lover from the grave.

    It’s essentally yet another attempt to rationally justify a stupid, entirely irrational, moral revulsion against the concept of human cloning. “Oh no, but if anyone had a clone, imagine the pressure the child would be under! It would be unlike anything a normal child would face! Normal parents never have wierd emotional problems and subject their kids to unawarrented expectations!”

    1. And now I will spoil the ending for you all… because the film basically builds up to an “incest” scene, in which the woman ultimately gives the camera a meaningful look that says “Okay, that was wierd and creepy, and not at all as romantic as I was expecting it to be.”

      As if it wasn’t OBVIOUS that it would be wierd and creepy to fuck the clone of your dead lover, 20 years earlier or at any point over the two decades when you were raising him as your child.

      1. This relates to what I said above; people, for totally irrational reasons often related to relentless media output, just think that there has to be some major downsides to immortality/clones/whatever. I mean, can anyone name a movie in which cloning is good, or even just not bad?

        You are not allowed to reference Multiplicity.

        1. What about Venture Brothers?

          1. Comedy does not count, as it will inevitably make cloning humorous (that’s why I disqualified Multiplicity; well, that and my dislike of Andie McDowell). But good try.

            1. I believe Howling III: The Marsupials presents a positive allegory regarding cloning.

              1. There was no cloning in Howling III, you big fat liar.

                1. Are you kidding? There was cloning all over the place. You just missed it.

                  1. Or maybe it was Maximum Overdrive I’m thinking of, with all the clones.

                    1. I always knew Yeardley Smith was a fucking clone! Fuck you, Lisa Simpson!

                    2. The second SW prequel whose name we cannot speak. Those clones were good, at least for a while.

                    3. At least, I think they were. I never could make heads or tails of that incoherent plot line.

                    4. Basket Case…they were Siamese twins weren’t they?

                    5. They were conjoined twins, but successfully separated. And if you like Frank Frank Henenlotter stuff, Brain Damage is a real hoot.

            2. that and my dislike of Andie McDowell

              Finally, a matter of taste in which I am in full accord with the Episiarch.

              1. Hey.

                Hey Epi.

                Is it raining?

                I hadn’t noticed.

            3. In The Fifth Element a clone saves the universe.

        2. Yeah. It’s kind of like a Hollywood-has-run-out-of-ideas problem.

          Tired of rehashing old science-run-amok plot lines? Well, let’s see, human cloning, there’s got to be something about THAT we can turn into a story line!

          So the only real exposure people get to the concept is via these contrived plot lines in which writers strain to come up with a reason why creating artifical identical twins could somehow be dangerous and wrong.

        3. Oh I have one:

          Never Let Me Go

          It’s a dystopian science fiction film in which clones are raised for organ donation. It takes the perspective of the clones, who are regarded as normal human beings. They all die young as their organs are slowly “donated”, one after the other.

          It’s not anti-cloning. The clones aren’t evil. It’s more of an argument that if clones existed they ought to have the same rights as anyone else.

          1. I’ve only read the book, but I got the distinct impression that cloning was not good at all (for the clones).

    2. Twins, clones, whatever. I suppose if I shared the world with six billion Kim Kardashian clones, I might have a problem, but I doubt that’s likely to happen.

      1. So, if twins (or clones) get it on, is that incest, or masturbation?

        1. Since we’re talking identical twins/clones, it’s not really incest, because freaky offspring aren’t an issue.

          1. I will scour the earth and one day I will find a pair of fraternal twins that share all their chromosomes except X-Y. Like a kleinfelter’s kid that divided at the 2-cell stage and fixed its own problem.

            1. I suppose that’s possible. It should certainly be possible with clones.

          2. That’s why I put the scare quotes around “incest” earlier. Since technically there was no genetic relationship between her and the clone.

            Still, I think having sex with someone you raised from childhood is morally wrong, since you’d be abusing an inherent emotional relationship that can’t be repaired afterwards.

        2. I think it’s just gay (NTTAWWT).

      2. Bob Heinlein explored this in detail. Whatever it is, I don’t want it.

    3. Normal parents never have wierd emotional problems and subject their kids to unawarrented expectations!

      As many of our commenters bear out every day.

    1. That’s a great retirement plan. And at 30! Boy, the future is some great place to be.

      1. Meh, 30. In the book it was 21.

        1. Read the book, but we’re talking the absolutely awesome movie.

          Tell me no one is planning to remake the film. I’m scared to look.

          1. It’s OK, Michael Bay plans to stay very true to the original spirit of the book/movie.

            I just thought it was cool how originally there were the three phases of seven years each, not to mention the complete idiocy of carouselling at 21. I mean, 30, I can see that…

  14. “Fortunately, our descendants will have at their disposal ever more powerful technologies and the benefit of our own experiences to guide them in their future reproductive and enhancement decisions.”

    Wrong! Future generations will have at their disposal technologies to service the exponential debt foisted upon them by previous generations. Mine the future!

  15. Oh, so some Canuck’s gonna tell me I can’t live forever? Maybe not you, Ms. McGill Labatt-Molson, but I’ll live as long as I damned well PLEASE, you totalitarian hag.

    You know who else didn’t live forever…

    1. Gandhi?

  16. Also, Ronald – cool story, bro

  17. “One approach I find helpful is to ask whether we are using it to repair nature when it fails or to do something that is impossible in nature.”

    Well, nature has failed to keep me from aging. So, this should be repaired.

  18. Yes, we can extend existing life, and will do dramatically in the future but no we can’t make to order people
    http://rctlfy.wordpress.com/20…..-geniuses/

  19. “techno-utopian secular religion.” ARGH#&%$!SHIT

    secular=denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis (Oxford Dictionary)

    “techno-utopian non religious religion.”

    This makes no sense!!!

    She is as idiotic as a local state representative who claims that secular humanism is a religion.

    Huh? What? A non religious religion?

    IDIOTS!!

    1. Not a religion? Don’t tell the Fellowship of Humanity, a secular humanist group which won a court decision saying that they’re a religion, and that they engage in “religious worship” on their property:

      http://humanisthall.net/HISTORY_fp.html

      Money quote from the church’s Web site: “The Fellowship considered itself to be a Humanist Church, and Secular Humanism its religion, practiced in Humanist Hall every Sunday.”

      1. I just don’t know why we bother having words!

        1. I feel like that all the time.

        2. I must acknowledge that I don’t quite understand your rebuttal. I’m sure it is very powerful, and decisively refutes what I said, but I’m simply too stupid to understand your point.

          1. It is not a rebuttal. I am acquiescing to the madness. War is peace. Slavery is freedom. Ignorance is knowledge. A Ford is a Chevy. The Moon is made of Green Cheese.

      2. Every group has their oddballs and morons.

        1. If the point is that the Fellowship of Humanity is a group of “oddballs and morons,” then that could be true, but it doesn’t answer the question: Is secular humanism a religion?

          If the Fellowship of Humanity is wrong about secular humanism being a religion, they managed to deceive the courts of California, which agreed that the Fellowship engaged in “religious worship” on its property and was therefore entitled to a property-tax exemption under the California constitution.

  20. Guys, let’s be fucking realisitic, immortality will either creat is nothing e real life vampires, aristocratic freaks living on top of and causing awe in the little people OR drastically undermine and hamper future progress, though we might be the elect of open minds, the majority of people have their hang-ups and it only a matter of time before an innovation will cross one.

  21. reminds of people going apeshit over:
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sci…..years.html

  22. One approach I find helpful is to ask whether we are using it to repair nature when it fails or to do something that is impossible in nature.

    That’s why I don’t think of them as airline “flights” when I go on vacation. I think of them as “technologically enhanced, yet still human, extended leaps”.

  23. I feel that debates of this kind are pretty superficial from all sides. Just to be contrarian, take for example the easy references to medications curing various mental ills. While people in very dire straits may have their life saved by medications, its also possible that certain mental techniques for survival can be lost in this way. Its only a personal observation, but I have seen friends for whom medication has apparently become a crutch. Far from curing them, as the arguments above assume, they seem to have a more complex experience with their “illness”, whereby they associate themselves with failure, and pin success on sort of.. temporary feelings. I have noticed one friend in particular seems to think that most people walk around all day with perfect energy happiness, and that things just come to them naturally. When he feels a lack of energy or happiness, he despairs it as his nature. I have to explain that I undergo all sorts of pain and torment daily, stresses to overcome, tiredness, doubts, etc.. but without help I don’t seem to dwell the way he does, I struggle to focus on getting things done. By effort I surprise myself with what I accomplish, and gain fortitude. In dark nights you can come to know things that are great, important, even genius (for this very reason, many psychologists have stopped prescribing medication to the bereaved unless they are truly delibilitated, understanding that grieving a loss is rational, and that the grieving process can have benefits to the griever in terms of coping with death in the future, or understanding mortality as a concept, etc.. I know this is a little vague, but hopefully the meaning comes through.

    The article substitutes a more nuanced understanding of illness for bold categories that are little more than labels. So construed, and with a pill posited to “cure” it, I think the argument comes about a bit too easily.

  24. Let’s face it, this lady is going to have her way and get progress regulated against. Just like with kidney sales millions of people will die needlessly, because of some elitist’s aesthetics. “We have the technology, we can’t rebuild him.”

  25. I have no problem with finding means to extend human life, so I don’t buy what the professor says in the article about dying to make room for our younger relatives. Since she’s written against euthanasia and doctor-assisted “suicide,” even she doesn’t always think that the convenience of our relatives should take precedence over our life.

    Her other point is more valid – changing humanity into something else entirely is not necessarily a life-affirming act. And she criticizes, quite correctly, the idea that transferring our thoughts onto a computer actually extends our lives – it might create a digital “clone” of my mind, but I myself wouldn’t live longer because of the existence of such a digital clone, any more than I would live longer because a genetic clone of myself existed somewhere.

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