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Unfit for the Future: The Need for Moral Enhancement (Uehiro Series in Practical Ethics) Hardcover – 19 Jul 2012

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (19 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019965364X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199653645
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 0.8 x 14.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,490,763 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


For anyone interested in the future of humankind, this book can only be recommended. (Tim Meijers, Ethical Perspectives)

Persson and Savulescu have explored with rigor and insight a crucial, but disquieting question: Are the moral capacities of human beings sufficient to deal with the threats to their survival created by modern scientific technology? There are many criticisms of biomedical moral enhancement in the scholarly literature media, but Persson and Savulescu argue forcefully that they are unfounded and that such enhancement might be necessary for the survival of human civilization. One can only hope that this fine book will be widely read. (Allen Buchanan, Duke University)

I welcome this book's call for research into the full array of ways of making us morally better. The authors make a powerful case for saying that our current moral endowment is not adequate for meeting the problems that the world faces. (Peter Singer, Princeton University)

About the Author

Ingmar Persson is Professor of Practical Philosophy at the University of Gothenburg, and Research Fellow at the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford. Julian Savulescu is Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics, Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, and Director of the Program on Ethics and the New Biosciences in the 21st Century School, University of Oxford

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The core thesis of Unfit for the Future is that human morality evolved to allow cooperation and altruism in small groups, but that we today face challenges requiring extensive global coordination. Challenges such as weapons of mass destruction and climate change require both individual humans and nation-states to make various kinds of sacrifices for the benefit of all, but it is currently very unlikely to get everyone to actually make such sacrifices. Humans do have moral emotions such as a sense of justice and fairness that cause them to willingly make sacrifices in order to benefit those they know, but international cooperation requires trusting and helping faceless strangers - and humans have also evolved to be naturally suspicious or even xenophobic towards people outside their tribe. Since traditional moral education isn't enough to overcome these challenges, we need to engage in "moral enhancement" and alter our biological moral dispositions.

The tone of the book is very academic and rational: there are few if any appeals to emotion, and logical reasoning from first principles is almost purely the style of argument. This makes the authors' train of thought relatively clear to follow, though it also makes for a rather dry reading, and things are occasionally expressed in needlessly convoluted ways.

The best part of the book is the explanation of the coordination challenges involved with international cooperation, of why rational self-interest isn't enough to overcome the challenges, and how our commonsense morality has evolved to solve some of these problems.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just one word: very good!!!
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