About Me

My photo
Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Saturday self-promotion - "Who's Afraid of the Brave New World?"

This article, "Who's Afraid of the Brave New World", was originally published in Quadrant magazine, back in 2003, and it was something of a milestone for me. Let me explain...

The previous year I'd completed a Masters degree in bioethics at Monash University, but my default plan at the time was to return to legal practice as a barrister (a specialist trial lawyer, for US readers). The good feedback that I received for some of the articles that I published around that time - and for "Who's Afraid of the Brave New World?", in particular - influenced my eventual decision to commence a doctoral program in philosophy at Monash. This emphasized philosophical bioethics, but also the issues in legal and political philosophy surrounding regulation of emerging biotechnologies.

During this whole period I was also chipping away at completing a philosophy major through Open Learning, which I did at the end of 2003 with an unbroken run of High Distinction results. I'd studied some philosophy here and there at earlier phases in my academic career, with good results, but it had not previously been my main focus.

So this was the time, around 2002-2004 that set me on my current direction - rather than the one I'd been assuming, tied to professsional legal practice - and "Who's Afraid of the Brave New World?" was a big part of the change.

Check out the article for yourself, if you're interested and haven't already read it. I argue against what I see as the facile view that permitting, say, human cloning would set us on a slippery slope to some sort of horrible society, a sort of Huxleyan Brave New World. I concede that there may be some legitimate, rational concerns surrounding these technologies, especially concerns relating to distributive justice. However, I argue that much of the opposition is irrational, and that these irrational elements should not drive public policy with regulation of biotech. Overall, the argument still seems good to me, although I've delved into the issues far more deeply in subsequent publications, especially my 2014 book Humanity Enhanced (which is, itself, a slightly expanded and considerably modified version of my doctoral dissertation).

I expect to keep returning to these issues.

No comments: