Engaging Bioethics

From: Robin Hanson (rhanson@gmu.edu)
Date: Fri Mar 02 2001 - 09:21:57 MST

The discipline of bioethics has come under some severe criticism on
this list. I have been invited to join a dozen prominent bioethicists
at an intimate conference, and to publish my contribution.
The conference is http://www.bgsu.edu/offices/sppc/bioethics.htm and
my paper is below. It is not overtly extropian, but perhaps abstractly
subversive of conventional bioethics.

To appear, Summer 2002, Social Philosophy & Policy 19(2).
Current version at http://hanson.gmu.edu/bioerror.pdf or .ps

                        Why Health Is Not Special:
                 Errors in Evolved Bioethics Intuitions

                             by Robin Hanson

Our moral intuitions seem to treat health care differently, and bioethics
frequently relies on health-specific moral intuitions to draw
health-specific conclusions. A plausible evolutionary account of the origin
of our health care intuitions, however, suggests important contingencies on
which such evolution depended, and that people are quite misinformed about
how self and in-group serving are their moral intuitions. Since these
features are widely considered to be signs of errors in moral intuitions, we
should rely less on health-specific moral intuitions in estimating moral

Robin Hanson rhanson@gmu.edu http://hanson.gmu.edu
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030-4444
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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