The Price of Perfection
Individualism and Society in the Era of Biomedical Enhancement
Humans have engaged in biological self-improvement since long before recorded history, from the impotence-curing wild lotus brew of the ancient Egyptians to the herbal energy drink favored by early Olympians. Now biomedical enhancements are pushing the boundaries of possibility and acceptability. Where do we draw the line? How do we know the true ramifications of pioneering medicine? What price are we willing to pay for perfection?
Maxwell J. Mehlman's provocative examination of these issues speaks to fundamental questions of what it means to be human. He finds public officials ill-equipped to handle the ethical, scientific, and public policy quandaries of biomedical enhancement. Instead of engaging difficult questions of morality, access, fairness, and freedom, elected officials have crafted toothless and counterproductive laws and regulations.
Mehlman outlines policy options to boost the societal benefits and minimize the risks from these technologies. In the process, he urges the public to face the ethical issues surrounding biomedical enhancement, lest our quest for perfection compromise our very humanity.
About the Author
"Bioethicists, as well as policy makers and the public, must think more often and more deeply about science's rapidly growing ability to improve human functioning. But what is present in The Price of Perfection, and sufficiently inspiring, is a well-balanced and well-documented look at how we now are positioned (at least in the United States) to control this process, and what some of the pros and cons of enlarging control, or alternatively loosening it, might be."—Anita Silvers, International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics
"In this book, Professor Mehlman shows precisely why those who oppose most forms of enhancement and optimization are at best confused. American culture constantly sells us the myth of the meritocracy—you deserve what you have because you earned it. The moral foundation of our economic system depends on the persuasiveness of this myth. Drugs that improve performance or level the competitive playing field threaten this core cultural belief. It is, as Mehlman elegantly argues, not so much that bioengineering perfection threatens to undermine fairness but rather that our mythic and fragile view of fairness is so threatened by the latest technologies of improvement. Anyone fascinated by the emerging battle over the morality of perfecting mankind ought to read this book."—Arthur Caplan, University of Pennsylvania
"We humans will never be 'perfect,' but Max Mehlman persuasively explains why Americans will nonetheless continue to try whatever we think might make us 'better' and keep us on the road to perfection."—George J. Annas, author of American Bioethics
"In The Price of Perfection, Max Mehlman makes it clear that biogenetic enhancement is the human destiny. He provides an insightful tour of not only the pitfalls but also, more important, the tremendous benefits that biomedical enhancement offers humanity."—Ronald Bailey, author of Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution
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