ISBN is

978-0-374-23643-4 / 9780374236434

Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution

by

Publisher:Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Edition:Hardcover

Language:English

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About the book:

In 1989, Francis Fukuyama made his now-famous pronouncement that because "the major alternatives to liberal democracy had exhausted themselves," history as we knew it had reached its end. Ten years later, he revised his argument: we hadn't reached the end of history, he wrote, because we hadn't yet reached the end of science. Arguing that our greatest advances still to come will be in the life sciences, Fukuyama now asks how the ability to modify human behavior will affect liberal democracy.

To re-orient contemporary debate, Fukuyama underlines man's changing understanding of human nature through history: from Plato and Aristotle's belief that man had "natural ends," to the ideals of utopians and dictators of the modern age who sought to remake mankind for ideological ends. Fukuyama persuasively argues that the ultimate prize of the biotechnology revolution-intervention in the "germ-line," the ability to manipulate the DNA of all of one person's descendents-will have profound, and potentially terrible, consequences for our political order, even if undertaken by ordinary parents seeking to "improve" their children.

In Our Posthuman Future, our greatest social philosopher begins to describe the potential effects of exploration on the foundation of liberal democracy: the belief that human beings are equal by nature.
Francis Fukuyama is Bernard Schwartz Professor of International Political Economy at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University. In 2002, he was appointed to the President's Council on Bioethics. He is the author of The Great Disruption: Human Nature and the Reconstitution of Social Order, Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity, and The End of History and the Last Man, among other works. He lives in McLean, Virginia.
A New York Times Notable Book
A Los Angeles Times Best Book
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title

In Our Posthuman Future, Fukuyama describes the potential effects of the biotechnology revolution on the foundation of liberal democracy: the belief that human beings are equal by nature. In 1989, he made his now-famous pronouncement that because the major alternatives to liberal democracy had exhausted themselves, history as we knew it had reached its end. Ten years later, he revised his argument: we hadn't reached the end of history, he wrote, because we hadn't yet reached the end of science. Arguing that our greatest advances still to come will be in the life sciences, Fukuyama now asks how the ability to modify human behavior will affect liberal democracy.

To reorient contemporary debate, Fukuyama underlines man's changing understanding of human nature through history: from Plato and Aristotle's belief that man had "natural ends" to the ideals of utopians and dictators of the modern age who sought to remake mankind for ideological ends. Fukuyama persuasively argues that the ultimate prize of the biotechnology revolutionintervention in the "germ-line," the ability to manipulate the DNA of all of one person's descendentswill have profound, and potentially terrible, consequences for our political order, even if undertaken by ordinary parents seeking to "improve" their children.
"Fukuyama has written an invaluable prescription for government regulation. Rarely has someone entering the policy arena so eloquently and precisely laid out the case for political control of emerging technology."Robert Lee Hotz, Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Fukuyama has written an invaluable prescription for government regulation. Rarely has someone entering the policy arena so eloquently and precisely laid out the case for political control of emerging technology."Robert Lee Hotz, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Fukuyama gives a fascinating tour of the post-human sciences and their implications, free of the dogma from both sides of the political spectrum that has accumulated around these breakthroughs. Fukuyama accepts the premise that life-prolonging technologies will push many citizens of industrialized countries into their second century of life. But because the developing world will still be feeling the effects of its recent population explosion, the result will be a planet divided along heretofore unimaginable demographic lines, 'with Europe, Japan, and parts of North America having a median age of nearly 60 and their less-developed neighbors having median ages somewhere in their early 20s.' Fukuyama also displays a refreshing skepticism about the prospects for genetic engineering, arguing persuasively that scientists still know too little about the ways in which genes control phenotypic expression to manipulate our genetic heritage in the near future, at least where complex attributes such as intelligence or memory are concerned."Steven Johnson, The Washington Post

"Fukuyama has taken a stunning step forward with this exploration not only of the ins and outs of a designer-baby future, but also of the politics and the political philosophy of a world in which advances in biotechnology fundamentally shape who we are as human beings. If this all sounds a little rarefied for some tastes, the genius of Our Posthuman Future is that it brings home just how important it will be in our immediate future for ordinary people to explore such questions."San Francisco Chronicle

"Fukuyama seeks to develop a principled middle way between the extremes of scientific libertarianism and an unrealistic idealism . . . Whether or not one accepts Fukuyama's overall argument, his practical recommendations may well hold out the best prospect for promoting a reasonable balance between a rapidly evolving field of science and the moral views of the American people."William A. Galston, The Public Interest

"In this groundbreaking inquiry, Fukuyama warns that advances in drugs and genetic engineering will allow society to control human behavior and manipulate physical characteristicsand this power could alter our understanding of what it means to be human . . . In a contentious and fast-moving policy area, Fukuyama provides a remarkably sensible and human vision of what is at stake and what needs to be done."Foreign Affairs

"A well-written and accessible discussion of advances in biotechnology and their social, ethical, legal and regulatory implications."Dan W. Brock, Clinical Bioethics, Warren G. Magnuson Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, American Scientist

"A cogent and important argument against the technocrats and 'casual academic Darwinians' who have so enthusiastically attempted to reduce our humanity to an increasingly implausible and culturally neutral calculus."Bryan Appleyard, Times Literary Supplement (London)

"A provocative argument that raises the nature-versus-nurture debate and questions about the role biology plays in human nature."Rebecca Skloot, The Chicago Tribune

In Our Posthuman Future, he has looked past the end of history and described the end of mankind . . . [It is] an informative survey of contemporary bioscience and its political implications [and] an effort to lay ethical foundations for policy judgments.The American Prospect

"Our Posthuman Future is a profound and important book that warns how today's Ritalin for boisterous boys could be tomorrow's 'abolition' of human nature as we know it. Tinkering with biology threatens to diminish

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