Is human nature obsolete? – VV. AA.


As our scientific and technical abilities expand at breathtaking speeds, concern that modern genetics and bioengineering are leading us to a posthuman future is growing. Is Human Nature Obsolete? poses the overarching question of what it is to be human against the background of these current advances in biotechnology, its perspective is philosophical and interdisciplinary rather than technical; the focus is on questions of fundamental ontological importance rather than the specifics of medical or scientific practice.

The authors—all distinguished scholars in their fields—take on questions about technology’s goals and values that are often ignored or sidelined in the face of rapid scientific advances and the highly specialized nature of technical knowledge. Is Human Nature Obsolete? provides a humanistic overview of a subject too often considered only in its technological aspect.

“Modifying ourselves through molecular biology is a humanitarian utopia to some, an imminent nightmare to others. But to all, the prospect should be a challenge because It touches on so many bask and unresolved questions. This excellent, probing collection of papers—spanning philosophy, history, social science, and theology—will be welcomed by professionals and lay readers alike.”

—Edward Tenner, author of Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences and Our Own Devices: How Technology Remakes Humanity.

“The conversation about what we want—literally—to make of ourselves is probably the most important conversation human beings will ever have. This carefully considered book is a fine entry into that dialogue, and it comes not a moment too soon.”
—Bill McKibben, author of Enough: Staying Human in an Engineered Age “The greatest strength of this book is the philosophical ambition of many of the essays, which make use of a rich variety of thought and literature to explore the implications of the new genetics and new biology. The book draws interesting and unpredictable connections between large human themes and contemporary debates. Particular essays in the volume will have lasting value in the field and are deeply relevant to the current bioethical deliberations at the national level.”

—Eric Cohen, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Washington, D.C.

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