Fakultäten » Medizinische Fakultät » Biomedizinische Ethik und Medizingeschichte, Institut für » Prof. Dr. Nikola Biller-Andorno » Roduit

Completed research project

Title / Titel Enhancement and Human Perfection
PDF Abstract (PDF, 14 KB)
Summary / Zusammenfassung The term “perfection” is frequently used in current debates about human enhancement. Often, this notion is employed by those who are skeptical about current and anticipated uses of biotechnology (“bioconservatives”): they regard the pursuit of perfection by biotechnological means as morally problematic and argue for its prohibition. However, the notion of perfection is also alluded to by some “transhumanists”, who optimistically endorse the possibilities of biotechnology to enhance human beings. They explicitly defend a vision of perfection that can, in their view, be realized by biotechnological means, and argue that we should become “better than human”.

Both bioconservatives and transhumanists draw on the concept of perfection, then, in order to argue for or against (certain) enhancements. They thereby assume that (i) enhancement and perfection are conceptually related, and that (ii) the concept of perfection is important for an ethical evaluation of enhancements. By contrast, “bioliberals” deny the conceptual relation between enhancement and perfection, and they argue against using the notion of perfection in the debate about enhancement: it is regarded by them as a notoriously vague notion that distorts rational discussions and is neither helpful nor needed in order to address the ethical questions that are raised by the new possibilities of biotechnology. Furthermore, bioliberals contend that we should not invoke any considerations that derive from specific conceptions of human perfection, because these are necessarily based upon controversial assumptions that are not shared by the members of liberal and pluralistic societies.

The proposed research project attempts to enter these discussions in order to clarify what, if any, role the concept of perfection has to play in debates about human enhancement. This question has not received any systematic treatment yet, but it helps to raise from a distinct and new perspective questions about the concept of enhancement, about the relevant normative standards for the evaluation of enhancements, and – in a more general vein – about the scope and limits of bioethics.

It is conjectured that the bioliberals’ agnostic stance towards perfection can be proven to be untenable, which will constitute an important finding that can without doubt initiate and facilitate further discussions between the three main camps – bioconservatives, transhumanists, and bioliberals – in the debate. At the same time, the project will also contribute to more general discussions about the scope and limits of bioethics, by stressing the importance of debates about ends and ideals that the concept of perfection is supposed to encourage.
Weitere Informationen
Publications / Publikationen Roduit, Johann A R; Vincent, Menuz; Baumann, Holger (2014). Human Enhancement: Living Up to the Ideal Human [Chapter 4]. In: Thompson, Steven John. Global Issues and Ethical Considerations in Human Enhancement Technologies. Hershey PA : Idea Group: IGI Global, 54-66.

Dorthe, Gabriel; Roduit, Johann A R (2014). Modifier l'espèce humaine ou l'environnement? Les transhumanistes face à la crise écologique. Bioethica Forum, 7(3):79-86.

Roduit, Johann A R (2014). Short literature notices: Review of MacKellar, C. and Betchel, C.: 2014, The Ethics of the New Eugenics. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 17(4):653.

Roduit, Johann A R (2013). Le chat du docteur Frankenstein : modifications biotechnologiques de nos amis les bêtes. Schweizerische Ärztezeitung (SÄZ), 94(33):1232-1233.

Roduit, Johann A R (2013). Rezension : Transhumanist Dreams and Dystopian Nightmares: The Promises and Peril of Genetic Engineering. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 16(1):116-117.

Roduit, Johann A R (2013). Rezension : Transhumanist Dreams and Dystopian Nightmares: The Promises and Peril of Genetic Engineering. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 16(1):116-117.

Roduit, Johann A R; Baumann, Holger; Heilinger, Jan-Christoph (2013). Human enhancement and perfection. Journal of Medical Ethics, 39(10):647-650.

Roduit, Johann A R (2012). Rezension : Transhumanism and transcendence: Christian hope in an age of technological enhancement. Medicine Health Care and Philosophy, 15(12):357-360.

Roduit, Johann A R; Widrig, Daniel (2012). Animal enhancement: the legal framework of mixing human-animal materials in Switzerland and our "postanimal" future. Bioethica Forum, 5(2):75-76.

Roduit, Johann A R (2012). Rezension - Enhancement: Ethique et Philosophie de la Médecine d’Amélioration. Medicine Health Care and Philosophy, 15(2):244-245.

Roduit, Johann A R (2012). Rezension - The Politics of Emerging Strategic Technologies: Implications for Geopolitics,Human Enhancement and Human Destiny. Medicine Health Care and Philosophy, 15(2):246-247.

Roduit, Johann A R (2012). Le Robin des Bois post-humain et la fin de l’humanité [Filmbesprechung]. Schweizerische Ärztezeitung, 93(5):177.

Roduit, Johann A R; Menuz, Vincent (2012). Ingénieries ou singeries? Schweizerische Ärztezeitung, 93(24):929-930.

Roduit, Johann A R (2012). Review of: Bauzon, S: Le Devenir humain : Réflexions éthiques sur les fins de la nature. Medicine Health Care and Philosophy, 15(1):91-92.

Roduit, Johann A R (2011). Remarques sur le rapport de la commission nationale d’éthique sur la Médecine d’amélioration. Schweizerische Ärztezeitung, 92(51/52):2021.

Roduit, Johann A R (2011). Mi-homme mi-bête: l'humanisation de la bête et la déshumanisation de l'homme. Revue Médicale Suisse, 7:2052-2053.

Roduit, Johann A R (2011). Buchrezension: Agar, N., 2010. Humanity’s end. Why we should reject radical enhancement. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. ISBN: 978-0262014625. Medicine Health Care and Philosophy, 14(3):345-346.

Roduit, Johann A R (2011). Changing human nature, ecology, ethics, genes, and god [Buchbesprechung]. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 14(3):347-348.

Roduit, Johann A R (2011). Medical enhancement and luxury: some ethical considerations regarding two recent events in Geneva. Bioethica Forum, 4(4):155-156.

Roduit, Johann A R (2011). Perfect copy? [Buchbsprechung]. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, 14(4):422-423.

Weitere Informationen

Keywords / Suchbegriffe human enhancement, human engineering, transhumanism, bioliberals, bioconservatives
Project leadership and contacts /
Projektleitung und Kontakte
Dr Johann Roduit, A R (Project Leader)
Other links to external web pages
Funding source(s) /
Unterstützt durch
SNF (Personen- und Projektförderung)
In collaboration with /
In Zusammenarbeit mit
Oxford Uehiro Center, University of Oxford United Kingdom
Duration of Project / Projektdauer May 2012 to Apr 2015