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The Wisdom of Nature: An Evolutionary Heuristic for Human Enhancement

Author: Nick Bostrom, Anders Sandberg
Organisation: Oxford University
Publish Date: 2007
Country: Global
Sector: Environment
Method: Foresight
Theme: Sustainability
Type: Other publication
Language: English
Tags: Human beings, Human nature, Nature, Wisdom of nature, Enhancement, Interventions

Sometimes the belief in nature’s wisdom – and corresponding doubts about the prudence of tampering with nature, especially human nature – manifest as diffusely moral objections against enhancement. Such objections may be expressed as intuitions about the superiority of the natural or the troublesomeness of hubris, or as an evaluative bias in favour of the status quo. This paper explores the extent to which such prudence‐derived anti‐enhancement sentiments are justified. We develop a heuristic, inspired by the field of evolutionary medicine, for identifying promising human enhancement interventions. The heuristic incorporates the grains of truth contained in “nature knows best ” attitudes while providing criteria for the special cases where we have reason to believe that it is feasible for us to improve on nature.
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