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March 1st, 2007

Exploring Nano-Ethics

Modern science is showing us, in example after example, that moderation is more functional than extremes. Moderation does not imply stasis—complexity and dynamism are necessary to keep systems from stagnating. So I would ask: How can medical technologies, including nanotechnologies, help us to reach our best potential as humans in human society?

Of course this question has no simple answer. Three things seem clear: First, that identifiable medical problems should be solved where possible. Here, Dr. Bruce and I would agree. Second, that where things are "good enough," change should be undertaken slowly and cautiously. Incautious or excessive amplification of human traits may lead to situations not dissimilar from drunkenness, mania, or even autism. Third—and here I part company with a number of proclamatory ethicists—that there is room for improvement in today's human societies, and that whether you call it treatment or enhancement, medical technologies have the potential to make things better if used wisely by non-sick people.


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