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Home > News & Events > Events & Lectures > Foresight Conferences > The 1st Adv. Nanotech. Conf. > Abstracts

A Critical Look at Leon Kass and Transhumanists on Ageless Bodies

Tihamer Toth-Fejel*

General Dynamics
Ann Arbor MI 48105 USA

This is an abstract for a presentation given at the
1st Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology:
Research, Applications, and Policy

Slide presentation as 88 KB PDF


This lecture examines the ethics of nanomedical enhancements, especially extreme life extension, by addressing the fundamental question: 'Does this improve or degrade our humanity?' Provides criticisms of the specific arguments of Leon Kass and Michael Anissimov regarding the ethics of ageless bodies.

In about a decade, nanotechnology will make it possible to precisely arrange individual atoms in bulk quantities, making many extraordinary medical enhancements possible, most notably ageless bodies. To judge whether any given enhancement is good or bad, we need a well-thought-out value system and a methodology for applying it. The traditionalists in the battle over determining this value system are the President's Council on Bioethics, led by Leon Kass. The progressives are Transhumanists, whose positions on extreme life extension are well argued by Michael Anissimov.

This lecture introduces a methodology that addresses the ethics of nanomedical enhancements, leading to the fundamental question: 'Does this improve or degrade our humanity?' Such a question requires us to then answer the question, 'What does it mean to be a human person?' From this grounded viewpoint, we can then critically address the specific arguments made by Kass and Anissimov regarding the ethics of ageless bodies.

While both Kass and Anissimov raise important points, they also make some significant blunders. Neither obeys Theodore Sturgeon's admonition, 'Ask the next question', and neither clearly identifies any rigorous assumptions on which to base their claims. Finally, neither has recalled Pogo's observation, which nanotechnology will not change except temporarily: 'Don't take life so serious, it ain't nohow permanent.'

*Corresponding Address:
Tihamer Toth-Fejel
General Dynamics
205 Brookside, Ann Arbor MI 48105 USA
Phone: 734 997-9695 Fax: 734 662-3384

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