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The Bioethics of Enhancement

Transhumanism, Disability, and Biopolitics

Melinda Hall

In a critical intervention into the bioethics debate over human enhancement, philosopher Melinda Hall tackles the claim that the expansion and development of human capacities is a moral obligation. Hall draws on French philosopher Michel Foucault to reveal and challenge the ways disability is central to the conversation. The Bioethics of Enhancement includes a close reading and analysis of the last century of enhancement thinking and contemporary transhumanist thinkers, the strongest promoters of the obligation to pursue enhancement technology. With specific attention to the work of bioethicists Nick Bostrom and Julian Savulescu, the book challenges the rhetoric and strategies of enhancement thinking. These include the desire to transcend the body and decide who should live in future generations through emerging technologies such as genetic selection. Hall provides new analyses rethinking both the philosophy of enhancement and disability, arguing that enhancement should be a matter of social and political interventions, not genetic and biological interventions. Hall concludes that human vulnerability and difference should be cherished rather than extinguished.

This book will be of interest to academics working in bioethics and disability studies, along with those working in Continental philosophy (especially on Foucault).
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Lexington Books
Pages: 192Size: 6 1/4 x 9 1/2
978-1-4985-3348-5 • Hardback • December 2016 • $80.00 • (£52.95)
978-1-4985-3349-2 • eBook • December 2016 • $76.00 • (£49.95)
Melinda C. Hall is assistant professor of philosophy at Stetson University.
Chapter 1: Dragon Slayers: Exploring Transhumanism

Chapter 2: Rethinking Disability: Dodging Definitions, Muddying Models

Chapter 3: Rethinking Enhancement: A Genealogical Approach

Chapter 4: Choosing, For Choice’s Sake: A Case Study

Chapter 5: Disability as/at Risk: The Biopolitics of Disability

Conclusion: Rethinking the Future

In The Bioethics of Enhancement, Melinda Hall powerfully argues that disability underpins debates over genetic enhancement, and in turn these debates anchor contemporary bioethics, making disability, and questions over which lives are worth living, the fulcrum of bioethics. Bringing Michel Foucaults notion of biopower to bear on the transhumanist discourses of Julian Savulescu and Nick Bostrom (among others) this book is a game changer, and a must read for anyone interested in enhancement literature, disability studies, or bioethics more generally.
Kelly Oliver, W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University

Melinda Hall’s The Bioethics of Enhancement: Transhumanism, Disability, and Biopolitics is both a unique contribution to philosophy of disability and a bold intervention into philosophical bioethics. It is also an important addition to the growing body of work that uses Foucault to interrogate the role that academic philosophy and bioethics play in the subordination of disabled people. The innovative arguments that Hall persuasively advances throughout the book demonstrate the prescience of Foucault’s insights and the relevance of his claims for critical philosophical analyses of disability, as well as show how critical scholarship on disability can expand our understanding of Foucault’s oeuvre.
Shelley Tremain, editor of Foucault and the Government of Disability