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Neoliberalising bioethics: Bias, enhancement and economistic ethics

Birch, Kean (2008) Neoliberalising bioethics: Bias, enhancement and economistic ethics. Genomics, Society and Policy, 4 (2). pp. 1-10. ISSN 1746-5354

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Abstract

In bioethics there is an ongoing debate about the ethical case for human enhancement through new biomedical technologies. In this debate there are both supporters and opponents of human enhancement technologies such as genetic improvements of cognitive abilities (eg, intelligence). The supporters argue that human enhancement will lead to healthier and therefore better lives, meaning that any delays to the introduction of such technologies is problematic. In contrast, the opponents argue that new technologies will not solve problems such as inequality and social justice. In order to overcome opposition to human enhancement, Bostrom and Ord have outlined a test to evaluate ethical arguments for 'status quo bias' or what they call 'intuitive judgements' in the assessment of human enhancement. This article is a response to their paper in which I raise a number of problems with their position, particularly with their 'status quo bias' test and the incorporation of economistic thinking into their ethical arguments.