Making humans better and making better humans
© ESRC Genomics Network 2010
Published: 15 April 2010
The last 10 years has seen the development and deployment of new biotechnologies not just as potential treatments but also as potential enhancements. The definition and differentiation of treatment (therapy) from enhancement is an ongoing clinical, ethical and social debate that ranges across a proliferating number of convergent technologies. Many of these innovations will 'come-on-line' as present generations of young people will be reaching adulthood and considering parenthood. This paper reports on a project that explored the possibilities for human enhancement with young people in order to gather their attitudes towards enhancement and the types of arguments/reasoning they employ when thinking about the possibilities and the techniques. The project focused on if/how distinctions are made between treatment and enhancement, between the different techniques that might be used for enhancement (genetic and non-genetic) and perceptions of risks and benefits. The young people's viewpoints, their methods of reasoning and underlying values are compared with those of bioethicists writing on the topic.