Friday, May 16, 2008

Steven Pinker on Human Dignity

There is a nice article by Steven Pinker in The New Republic about Bioethics and the idea of human dignity. I agree with him that the concept of human dignity is too vague and ultimately useless and also it is extremely worrying that woolly ideas derived from religion are being used by those who are in power to buttress their arguments against scientific research.

Unfortunately Pinker doesn't deal with more substantial criticisms against scientific research, specially in the areas of neurophysics and genetics, about how human autonomy and identity is being undermined by new findings or at least their crude interpretations. Human freedom, uniqueness of human identity (self), and the idea that human beings should be seen as ends in themselves and not as means to some end are all moral imperatives, above and beyond any scientific theory. Ultimately it all boils down the difference between what is and what should be. By venturing into a domain (of what should be) that doesn't belong to them, scientists create unnecessary confusion.

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