“A Tsunami Wave of Science: How the Technologies of Transhumanist Medicine are Shifting Canada’s Health Research Agenda” (2008) Special Ed. Health LJ 13.
This article, written in collaboration with James Wishart, begins with an examination of a growing movement known as transhumanism. With thousands of members from various backgrounds and academic disciplines assembled at prestigious institutions around the world, this group is morally committed to the idea that technology ought to be used to radically alter the human condition. While the transhumanist stance may appear to be radical, in this article we argue that the project of transhumanist medicine is to be taken seriously because its underlying philosophies are already embedded in the mainstream North American health research agenda, resulting in a recent shift towards “enhancement” medicine.
In Part I, James and I briefly outline the core principles and practices of transhumanism. In Part II of the article, we examine nanotechnology as transhumanism’s technologies of choice, illustrating the transhumanist vision of medical science as a self-enabled, interventionist, enhancement-focused enterprise. In Part III, we examine a shift in agenda in Canadian federal research and development towards an enhancement-focused medical science. Finally, in Part IV, there are two possible implications that we suggest will result form this shift towards a transhumanist medicine.
While emerging and future human enhancement technologies may well have much to offer, Canada’s health research agenda is shifting towards a self-enabled, interventionist, enhancement-focused enterprise without pausing to consider or address its underlying philosophies or implications. In conclusion, in this brief article, we suggests that there are significant ramifications in doing so, both in terms of our core conceptions of what health is and in our sense of entitlement to it. Although we offers no concrete answers to these issues, this work is intended as the preface to an enduring discourse that is long overdue in Canadian bioethics, health law and policy.