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The Ethics of Human EnhancementUnderstanding the Debate$
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Steve Clarke, Julian Savulescu, Tony Coady, Alberto Giubilini, and Sagar Sanyal

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198754855

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198754855.001.0001

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Levelling the Playing Field

Levelling the Playing Field

On the Alleged Unfairness of the Genetic Lottery

(p.198) 14 Levelling the Playing Field
The Ethics of Human Enhancement

Michael Hauskeller

Oxford University Press

It is frequently argued that human enhancement is not only morally permissible but also morally obligatory: we have a moral duty to provide people with opportunities to enhance themselves. This duty to enhance is sometimes believed to follow from the fact that our natural abilities are not evenly distributed, that what we can and cannot do is to a large extent the result of a ‘genetic (or natural) lottery’. Thus people’s chances in life are, through no fault of their own, hampered by a ‘genetic inequality’, which, being entirely undeserved is clearly unfair. To ensure fairness, we are thus morally obligated to redress the situation and ‘level the playing field’. However, it is not entirely clear whether it actually makes sense to declare a natural condition, which is not in any way the result of human agency and is thus not a proper subject of distributive justice, to be ‘unfair’. This chapter looks into this claim and investigates to what extent it is plausible.

Keywords:   fairness, distributive justice, genetic lottery, natural lottery, human enhancement, genetic inequality, duty to enhance

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