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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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Reasons, Reflection, and Repugnance

Reasons, Reflection, and Repugnance

Chapter:
(p.58) 4 Reasons, Reflection, and Repugnance
Source:
The Ethics of Human Enhancement
Author(s):

Doug McConnell

Jeanette Kennett

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198754855.003.0004

Moral conservative Leon Kass claims that repugnance is the emotional expression of deep wisdom, so intuitions generated by repugnance should guide our adoption of enhancement technologies. Contra Kass, the authors argue that plausible accounts of rational and wise action integrate intuition and reflection. The wise only rely on intuitions over reflective thought when those intuitions have been developed through reflection, training, and experience and are subject to reflective oversight. Therefore the normative authority of intuitions is parasitic on long-term reflective training. More central to wisdom are the policies of epistemic humility, open-mindedness and a willingness to justify one’s actions. These policies allow the wise agent to train both their affective responses and their reflective thinking to track their reasons more robustly. Repugnance may alert us to the need for caution but it does not have the normative authority to end the conversation.

Keywords:   repugnance, enhancement, moral conservative, wisdom, intuition, reflection, epistemic humility, justification

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