[ExI] Enhanced humans: the new arms (nephilim) race

Joseph Bloch seculartranshumanist at gmail.com
Thu Oct 21 01:05:15 UTC 2010

On Wed, Oct 20, 2010 at 7:37 PM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:
> The human dignity argument is a vague, almost
> undefined notion that people pull out because they are masking something
> else entirely: intolerance for human inequality.  If we develop a bunch of
> posthuman technologies, the benefits will go wildly disproportionately to
> those who are already advanced.  It already works that way: aborigines
> didn't benefit much from the development of the PC or the internet.  They
> are even farther behind now.

I think this is where some of the disconnect between Transhumanists
and the rest of the world might be creeping in, and thus we're not
answering the argument sufficiently well.

I don't think Leon Kass or Thomas Horn are using "human dignity" in
any way is referring to inequities in availability of >H technology.
They're talking about any adaptation of technologies that serves to
distance adapters from "humans as created in God's image" (what I
might call "baseline humans") as being inherently damaging to what
they define as "human dignity". In that conception, dignity is
inversely proportional to alterations from the baseline, or perhaps
more bluntly, human dignity is defined as what God wants humans to be
like. Naturally, they don't include things like eyeglasses or
pacemakers, but nobody ever accused them of being intellectually
coherent. Just effective (in large part because, as you point out,
quite vague in their assertions, appealing to emotions rather than

On the other end of the spectrum, the Council of Europe's "Convention
for the Protection of Human Rights and Dignity of the Human Being with
regard to the Application of Biology and Medicine: Convention on Human
Rights and Biomedicine" (gasp), found here:
http://conventions.coe.int/Treaty/en/Treaties/Html/164.htm , you'll
see they're using "dignity" to refer to individual choice. As in,
dignity is harmed when medical interventions are forced on people.
They give a little lip-service to universal availability, but the
specifics all deal with not forcing medical procedures or testing on

It's interesting, though, that "fairness in availability" was the
first thing that came to mind when you considered what "human dignity"
meant on a practical level. It's not, I think, what others think when
they use it, but I certainly wouldn't dismiss it out of hand as a
valid interpretation of the phrase.


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