Defining Human Enhancement: Towards a Foundational Conceptual Tool for Enhancement Law
Journal of Law, Information & Science, volume 25, issue 3, 2016
Posted: 22 Apr 2016 Last revised: 22 Nov 2017
Date Written: April 21, 2016
Emerging technologies open the prospect of extraordinary interventions on the human body. These may go beyond what is strictly necessary to sustain health and well-being. While responding to social and ethical challenges of such advances, the Law simultaneously faces the challenge of reflecting on the legitimacy to legislate and on whether the existing legal framework is appropriate to address the various concerns. In order to do so, it is crucial to establish clear legal definitions. Precise distinctions between interventions on the human body are intrinsically difficult to formulate. However, subject-matter definitions are vital legal tools to determine what is currently regulated in established fields of law and whether there is room for a new legal field – Enhancement Law. This paper provides a reflection on the relevance of establishing a legal definition of human enhancement and to what extent different legal fields and jurisdictions may warrant different understandings of such concept. It reviews a number of different and often divergent concepts and taxonomies of human enhancement and concludes with the proposal and analysis of a definition: Use of technological means with the intention to improve, modify or introduce in the human body aesthetic features, physical, emotional or cognitive performance levels and abilities beyond the human species typical standards under the current evolutionary state, and resulting in induced permanent alterations in the human body.
Keywords: Human enhancement, Health Law, Neuro Law, Enhancement Law, Law & Technology
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation