The Future of Human Nature
Recent developments in biotechnology and genetic research are raising complex ethical questions concerning the legitimate scope and limits of genetic intervention. As we begin to contemplate the possibility of intervening in the human genome to prevent diseases, we cannot help but feel that the human species might soon be able to take its biological evolution in its own hands. 'Playing God' is the metaphor commonly used for this self-transformation of the species, which, it seems, might soon be within our grasp.
In this important new book, Jurgen Habermas - the most influential philosopher and social thinker in Germany today - takes up the question of genetic engineering and its ethical implications and subjects it to careful philosophical scrutiny. His analysis is guided by the view that genetic manipulation is bound up with the identity and self-understanding of the species. We cannot rule out the possibility that knowledge of one's own hereditary factors may prove to be restrictive for the choice of an individual's way of life and may undermine the symmetrical relations between free and equal human beings.
In the concluding chapter - which was delivered as a lecture on receiving the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade for 2001 - Habermas broadens the discussion to examine the tension between science and religion in the modern world, a tension which exploded, with such tragic violence, on September 11th.
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"The Future of Human Nature" is a slim volume that consists of two related essays on bioethics and a lecture that Habermas gave shortly after September 11th attacks. In the course of the book ... Read full review
The Debate on the Ethical SelfUnderstanding of
Postscript January 2002
Faith and Knowledge
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abortion action argument assume autonomous awareness biopolitical biotechnological birth body Chance to Choice child clinical attitude concept confronted consequences constitutional context controversial course cultural debate decisions dedifferentiation democratic deontological dependence destruction of embryos dispose embryo embryonic stem cells equal ethical freedom ethical self-understanding eugenic practices existence fact Frankfurt am Main future person genetic engineering genetic intervention genetic program genome goal Habermas human dignity human embryonic stem human nature identity individual instrumentalization intention interaction interpersonal intuition irreversible Johannes Rau Kierkegaard language game liberal eugenics lifeworld living manipulation metaphysical mode modern moral reasons negative eugenics normative objectivating objective one's oneself organic ourselves parents perspective political postmetaphysical preimplantation genetic diagnosis prenatal prepersonal human programmed person protection question reference regulation relations relevant religion religious responsibility Ronald Dworkin second person secular sense social society species species-ethical therapeutic traditions understanding University worldviews