A C Grayling

Men or Supermen

Our Posthuman Future

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Redesigning Humans

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Advances in biotechnology are so rapid that within a decade reproductive scientists will be able to engineer the human germline not just to free fetuses from inherited disease, but to influence various aspects of normal fetuses so that the resulting individual will be genetically enhanced. This is not science fiction but science fact; it is almost upon us. And despite the great anxieties expressed in some quarters about what this means for humankind, people everywhere are already voting with their wallets to take advantage of anything that biotechnology offers in the way of curing diseases, lengthening lifespan, restoring youthful vigour, and giving their children a head start.

In the two books here under review, sharply opposed views are taken about the acceptability of these developments. Francis Fukuyama is against them, Gregory Stock is for them. And it has to be said at once that nothing could be better calculated to promote the future of biotechnology than the remarkable asymmetry between their two accounts. Fukuyama’s essentially conservative case is no match for the well-informed and sensible considerations put forward by Stock.

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