A Nano Necessity: Global Ethics for Human Enhancement

Author: Marinelle Ringer

Publication: The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities, and Nations, vol. 12, no. 2, pp

Abstract: Socio-economic and cultural diversity will be critical to the development of a global ethic for applications of nanotechnology intended for human enhancement. As indicated by Joachim Schumer, nanotechnology “may be expected to increase the economic gap between rich and poor countries much more than any previous technology.” Unless individuals living in the developing world become involved in the debate now, there is little chance that their interests will be considered after the technology has become viable. However, both the potential profit from, and the broad spectrum of innovations in nanotechnology cloud matter: after all, few, if any, would argue the immediate good of advanced materials for the development of clean and renewable sources of energy or targeted drug delivery for the treatment of cancer. Nevertheless, as has been suggested by researchers at the Hastings Center, the scope of applications in bio-nanotechnology will “promulgate, exacerbate, or provide new variations” on familiar bioethical issues—including the global health divide. None of these is apt to prove more challenging than the question of transhumanity, e.g., “whether a person who undergoes radical cognitive and psychological enhancement remains the same person, or even human.”

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