A Tsunami Wave of Science: How the Technologies of Transhumanist Medicine are Shifting Canada's Health Research Agenda

"A Tsunami Wave of Science: How the Technologies of Transhumanist Medicine are Shifting Canada's Health Research Agenda" (2008) Health Law Review (in press)

16 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2008

See all articles by Ian R. Kerr

Ian R. Kerr

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

James Wishart

University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law

Date Written: 2008

Abstract

This article 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 it is argued 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, the authors briefly outline the core principles and practices of transhumanism. In Part II of the article, they 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, the authors 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 suggested for 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, this brief article 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 this article 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.

Keywords: transhumanism, health law, enhancement medicine, nanotechnology, medicine, interventionist, bioethics, ethics, policy

Suggested Citation

Kerr, Ian R. and Wishart, James, A Tsunami Wave of Science: How the Technologies of Transhumanist Medicine are Shifting Canada's Health Research Agenda (2008). "A Tsunami Wave of Science: How the Technologies of Transhumanist Medicine are Shifting Canada's Health Research Agenda" (2008) Health Law Review (in press), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1302543

Ian R. Kerr (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
Canada
613-562-5800 (Phone)

James Wishart

University of Ottawa - Faculty of Law ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5
Canada

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