Accepted Paper:

Cultural and political reasons for the gap between South-Eastern and Western European ethico-political discourse on 'human enhancement'   


Franc Mali (University of Ljubljana)

Paper short abstract:

The paper focuses on ethical discourse on 'human enhancement' (HE) in the specific cultural and political setting of South-Eastern Europe. The lack of interest of ethics expert groups of this region in more far-reaching perspectives of the HE topic is ascribed to certain cultural and political factors.

Paper long abstract:

The paper analyses and discusses theoretical and practical issues related with intercultural differences concerning the progress of so-called 'human enhancement technologies' (HET), taking South-Eastern European discourse (and Slovenian discourse in particular) as example to be compared with Western European discourse on 'human enhancement' (HE). In light of advances in 'converging technologies' (nano, bio, info, cogno/neuro; NBIC) and rising expectations concerning 'human enhancement' (HE), encompassing approaches to the analysis of ethical, legal and societal aspects (ELSA) of HE have been widely recommended (see, for example, Coenen et al., 2009; Savulescu et al., 2011), also in order to help create a solid knowledge base for anticipatory governance of HET. How did institutionalised ethical discourse in South-Eastern Europe react to the prospects of progress in HET and Western European discourse? Earlier sociological studies had already pointed out significant differences between bioethics institutions in Western and South-Eastern Europe (Mali et al., 2012; Ahvenharju et al., 2006; Fuchs, 2005), such as the dominance of traditional, medical (bio)ethics in the latter region. Institutionalised ethico-political discourse in South-Eastern Europe evidently also lacks capacities to appropriately deal with broader ELSA of the future progress of HET. The paper analyses and discusses various (historically grounded) socio-cultural and (more recent) political reasons for this situation.

Panel T104
Enhancement Cultures and Future Bodies