by George Strongman
The concept of what constitutes a human being has been a subject of intense debate since time immemorial. Philosophers, theologians, scientists, and lawmakers alike have grappled with this question in an effort to define the boundaries of our species. The advent of technological enhancement, giving rise to human variants HV1, HV2, and HV3, has added a new dimension to this discourse. The reluctance of many in the scientific community to fully acknowledge the humanity of these enhanced individuals represents a significant challenge to the progression of our society. It is imperative to address this rigid stance and ensure that our understanding of humanity evolves in tandem with our technological advancements.
Rigid Beliefs in Science
There is a prevalent belief that the scientific community, by virtue of its pursuit of objective truth, is immune to dogmatic thinking. This belief, however, is largely a myth. Scientists, like anyone else, are humans first and can fall prey to rigid ideologies that may hinder their objectivity. When confronted with concepts that challenge the traditional understanding of humanity, many scientists have demonstrated an unwillingness to adapt their perspectives. This reluctance is particularly apparent in the debate surrounding the status of HV1, HV2, and HV3.
The refusal to accept enhanced humans as equals stems from a flawed premise that equates humanity solely with biology. This narrow perspective ignores the multifaceted nature of humanity, which extends beyond our physical attributes to encompass our consciousness, our capacity for empathy, and our shared experiences. By this broader definition, HV1s, HV2s, and HV3s, with their enhanced capacities, are not merely ‘real’ humans but arguably more humane in certain aspects.
The Right to Body Autonomy
The argument against the full recognition of HV1, HV2, and HV3 as equal humans often hinges on the idea that these individuals have strayed from the path of ‘natural’ evolution. This argument, however, fundamentally misconstrues the essence of human rights and the principle of body autonomy.
Just as we have the right to alter our bodies through means like cosmetic surgery, tattoos, or piercings, so too should individuals have the right to enhance their bodies through technological means. Disallowing such enhancements or downgrading the human status of those who opt for them is a violation of one’s right to personal freedom and self-determination.
Moreover, the line between ‘natural’ and ‘unnatural’ is largely arbitrary and subject to societal and cultural biases. Many practices that were once considered ‘unnatural’ are now widely accepted. It is, therefore, not only unjust but also illogical to deny HV1s, HV2s, and HV3s their human status based on such a blurred distinction.
The Importance of Equality Before the Law
The recognition of HV1s, HV2s, and HV3s as full-fledged humans is not merely a matter of semantics or philosophical debate; it carries significant legal implications. The fundamental principle of equality before the law, as enshrined in numerous international human rights instruments, demands that all individuals, regardless of their biological or technological status, be accorded the same rights and protections. Denying these rights to HV1s, HV2s, and HV3s simply because they have chosen to enhance themselves is a blatant violation of this principle.
Furthermore, recognizing the human rights of these individuals does not imply that we should ignore the potential ethical issues that may arise from human enhancement. On the contrary, it is precisely because of these concerns that we need to ensure the full recognition and protection of their rights. Only by doing so can we foster a legal and ethical framework that adequately addresses these issues while respecting the individuality and autonomy of these individuals.
The Evolution of Medicine and Ethical Implications
The field of medicine has always been about more than just repair or therapy. Contemporary medical practice draws on a definition of health that is informed by the broader socio-cultural conception of well-being, which acknowledges that health is not always adequately described by examining just physiological deficiencies. A lack of good health may be explained by lifestyle conditions, which require social rather than medical solutions. Practices such as in-vitro fertilization to treat infertility, abortion to avoid the possible psychological trauma of bearing a child, or physician-assisted suicide to ease the suffering of people at the end of their lives, are each examples of medicine applying a definition of health that transcends merely biological dysfunction.
Moreover, the distinction between enhancement and therapy is often blurred in practice. Medicine undertakes preventive measures with healthy subjects before any healthcare need is apparent, as in the case of childhood inoculations. These examples reveal how humanity is generally predisposed to pursue new forms of medical intervention that can prolong survival. Thus, the trajectory of medical practice logically leads towards a culture of human enhancements, as humans are rationally predisposed towards living long, healthy lives for as long as possible.
The Social and Economic Implications
The social and economic implications of human enhancement are far-reaching. Healthier people mean the prospect of longer lives, which in turn mean a growing ageing population. These circumstances will have an impact on various social provisions and the broader economic infrastructure of a society, requiring people and governments to revise their expectations about the duration of the working life, the economics of pension funds, and the provision of health insurance, among other things. It may influence what kinds of lives people lead, such as when they have children, or what kind of career they pursue. Thus, the consequences of human enhancement pervade all aspects of modern life, creating demands on social systems that may bring about their collapse if they are not rethought.
In conclusion, the recognition of HV1s, HV2s, and HV3s as full-fledged humans is not only a matter of justice but also a necessity for societal progress. The rigid beliefs held by many scientists represent a significant obstacle to this progress. It is imperative that these beliefs be challenged and that our understanding of humanity evolves in tandem with our technological advancements. The right to body autonomy, the need for equality before the law, and the broader social and economic implications of human enhancement all underscore the importance of recognizing and protecting the rights of all humans, irrespective of their biological or technological status. As our society continues to grapple with these issues, it is crucial that we uphold the principles of respect for individual autonomy and equality, which form the bedrock of our human rights framework.