Caplan's Response to Elliott's Viewpoint
- Is It Ethical to Use Enhancement Technologies to Make Us Better than Well?
Elliott professes to be unhappy about enhancement. What arguments does he present to support his unhappiness? Not many, and the arguments that he does offer miss the point completely.
If people want to feel better, sleep less, have fewer hot flashes, better vision, or fewer wrinkles, then they may want to use enhancement technologies to achieve these things. Technology in itself isn't driving us in any particular direction—I believe that we decide where it should go. Elliott, however, gravely warns us that you and I do not really decide a direction when it comes to matters of enhancement. It is—listen carefully for the Darth Vader–esque hissing—drug companies!
The rest of Elliott's viewpoint amounts to what is his increasingly familiar harangue against the pharmaceutical industry. The drug companies sucker us into buying enhancement by getting us hooked on pseudotherapies. The drug companies rob us of our will to fend off their siren-like messages of better living through their chemistry. And the drug companies get us feeling so bad about ourselves that we empty our wallets on their latest overpriced geegaws.
Pharmaceutical companies may be evil incarnate. And we may be putty in their pecuniary little hands. But that has nothing at all to do with the question of whether there is anything wrong with pursuing enhancement. When Elliott eagerly dons his hair shirt to bemoan Big Pharma, he finds so much sin to revel in that he forgets to give a reason, any reason, why enhancement is, in itself, immoral.
At most he presents an argument for keeping the pharmaceutical industry out of enhancement. Okay, so let's take Big Pharma out of the picture. If we left the encouragement of enhancement to the government, the military, schools, foundations, doctors, or parents, would this now be morally acceptable? I think sometimes it would be. And nothing that Elliott says provides any reason to think otherwise.
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