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The Goodness of Fragility: On the Prospect of Genetic Technologies Aimed at the Enhancement of Human Capacities


Beginning with the assumptions that genetic technology will make possible the enhancement of some significant human capacities and that our society will have self-evident reasons to pursue such enhancements, this essay suggests less evident reasons to proceed with extreme caution. The essay asks: Will we, in our attempts to enhance humans by reducing their subjection to chance and change, inadvertently impoverish them? It explores how technologies aimed at enhancement might affect the good that is our experience of some forms of the beautiful and the excellent, the good that is relationships of care, and the good that is diversity across the life span. In the end, it speculates about the fundamental philosophical difference that underlies the disagreement between those who would tend to embrace a project to enhance human capacities and those who would tend to criticize such a project.