Archives For Humanity 2.0

Author Information: Robert Frodeman, University of North Texas, Robert.Frodeman@unt.edu

Frodeman, Robert. “Anti-Fuller: Transhumanism and the Proactionary Imperative.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 4, no. 4 (2015): 38-43.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-1Zr

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victorian_transhuman

Image credit: Dave Mathis, via flickr

Academics suffer from a type of déformation professionnelle: we believe that across the long arc of history that ideas get their due. Our efforts are premised on the assumption that the best argument and deepest thinker will eventually be recognized.

Steve Fuller offers an interesting case in point. Few academics are as dedicated to the academic enterprise. His scholarship is prodigious, drawing from a wide range of historical and disciplinary sources. He publishes like crazy. Yet, despite its depth and verve, Fuller’s work has not gotten the notice it deserves— the attention, say, lavished on the Latours and Bourdieus of the world. Why? Besides accident, and the lack of a French accent, I see two factors at work.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: Keith Wayne Brown (Keith.Brown@unt.edu), Brighton Dwinnel, Bob Frodeman (frodeman@unt.edu), Steve Fuller (S.W.Fuller@warwick.ac.uk), Lauren Griffith, Carl Jacob, David Silverberg, Natalie Szczechowski, Mike Watson

Brown, Keith Wayne, Brighton Dwinnel, Bob Frodeman, Steve Fuller, Lauren Griffith, Carl Jacob, David Silverberg, Natalie Szczechowski, Mike Watson. “A Dialogue Concerning Humanity 2.0.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 3, no. 6 (2014): 33-43.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-1t7

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What follows are Steve Fuller’s responses to a set a questions posed by the Metaphysics undergraduate class convened by Robert Frodeman and Keith Wayne Brown in the Philosophy Department at the University of North Texas. These questions were initially sent in preparation for Fuller’s video conference call to the class on 10 April 2014. Among the works considered in the class was Fuller’s Humanity 2.0. The named questioners, other than Frodeman and Brown, are students in the class.

Natalie Szczechowski
What is “normal” now and how do you feel that definition will adjust within humanity 2.0?

Steve Fuller
As has been said of patriotism, ‘normal’ is the last refuge of scoundrels in today’s world — or maybe simply the last refuge of dimwits. A good sign that we’re already prepared to enter ‘Humanity 2.0’ is that whenever someone justifies what they’ve done by claiming that it is ‘normal’, we immediately infer that the person hasn’t really thought much about what they’ve done. We hope they follow up that opening gambit with an account that makes clear the existence of plausible alternative courses of action and the basis on which they then took a decision. In the back of my mind is a future conversation, perhaps had toward the end of this century, in which someone asks a person who today would pass as ‘normal’ why hadn’t they opted to take the latest enhancement drug, etc. Simply responding that they wanted to remain ‘normal’ will not cut it then — and barely cuts it now.  Continue Reading…

Author Information: David Budtz Pedersen, Aarhus University, SERRC, davidp@hum.ku.dk

Pedersen,David Budtz. “Who Should Govern the Welfare State 2.0? A Comment on Fuller.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2, no. 12 (2013): 51-59.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-19F

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Abstract

In his thought-provoking exploration of the future of humanity, Steve Fuller envisages a new and strengthened role for the welfare state. The future transhumanist society will be inhabited by increasingly segregated classes of biological species, some of which have been successful in enhancing their biological condition beyond evolutionary determination. Others, however, will be trapped in Humanity 1.0 with no hope of getting access to expensive biomedical products or genetic services. Fuller emphasizes the “proactionary principle” as a new welfare model in which the benefits from risky experiments are redistributed to the wider society through taxation and compensation. Still, the basic philosophical question remains: what is the basis of solidarity between Humans 1.0 and Humans 2.0 in a world where citizens no longer will share a common biological condition. Distributive justice is key to Fuller’s proactionary ethics. In this comment, I examine the foundation of justice as outlined by Fuller. I propose a new set of political positions for the post-biological age (i) biolibertarianism, (ii) bioegalitarianism and (iii) bioutilitarianism.

Two modes of government

The basic argument in this paper is as follows: According to Fuller (2011, 2012a, 2013), at some future point in history cognitively and biologically enhanced Humans 2.0 will depart from Humans 1.0. In the future transhumanist society, the role of the welfare state is to stimulate experimentation, distribute positive effects, and compensate negative effects. Traditionally, in Humanity 1.0 redistribution was based on the idea of a “natural lottery” i.e., the biological abilities or disabilities a person has are the product of unintended evolutionary consequences. In Humanity 2.0, however, unintended consequences are turned into intended consequences as an effect of bioengineering and biomedical intervention. The question therefore remains: if the future welfare state is run by Humans 2.0, why should they continue to distribute the benefits of scientific experiments to the remaining Humans 1.0? What is the common ground for inter-species solidarity? Continue Reading…

Author Information: J. Britt Holbrook, Georgia Institute of Technology, britt.holbrook@pubpolicy.gatech.edu

Holbrook, J. Britt. 2013.”Fuller’s Categorical Imperative: The Will to Proaction.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2 (11): 20-26.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-13K

“I love those who do not know how to live, except by going under, for they are those who cross over.” — Nietzsche

Abstract

Two 19th century philosophers — William James and Friedrich Nietzsche — and one on the border of the 18th and 19th centuries — Immanuel Kant — underlie Fuller’s support for the proactionary imperative as a guide to life in ‘Humanity 2.0’. I make reference to the thought of these thinkers (James’s will to believe, Nietzsche’s will to power, and Kant’s categorical imperative) in my critique of Fuller’s will to proaction. First, I argue that, despite a superficial resemblance, James’s view about the risk of uncertainty does not map well onto the proactionary principle. Second, however, I argue that James’s notion that our epistemological preferences reveal something about our ‘passional nature’ connects with Nietzsche’s idea of the will to power in a way that allows us to diagnose Fuller’s ‘moral entrepreneur’ as revelatory of Fuller’s own ‘categorical imperative’. But my larger critique rests on the connection between Fuller’s thinking and that of Wilhelm von Humboldt. I argue that Fuller accepts not only Humboldt’s ideas about the integration of research and education, but also — and this is the main weakness of Fuller’s position — Humboldt’s lesser recognized thesis about the relation between knowledge and society. Humboldt defends the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake on the grounds that this is necessary to benefit society. I criticize this view and argue that Fuller’s account of the public intellectual as an agent of distributive justice is inadequate to escape the critique of the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. Continue Reading…

Author Information: Steve Fuller, University of Warwick, Auguste Comte Chair in Social Epistemology S.W.Fuller@warwick.ac.uk, Homepage: http://bit.ly/q3GBmi

Fuller, Steve. 2013. “What’s the Difference between the Second Coming and Humanity 2.0? Response to Winyard.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2 (3): 8-14.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-Gz

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David Winyard (2013) is correct to say that trying to reconcile the claims of theology and biology in any understanding of the human condition is bound to be an unhappy affair. He forgot to add that this is especially true, if both sides insist on operating with a backward-looking conception of what it means to be human. Transhumanism is interesting — and challenging to both sides — precisely because of its resolutely forward look at the human. In the end, the transhumanist treats the human past, including what both theologians (qua “original sin”) and biologists (qua “evolutionary history”) might call our “inheritance”, as raw material out of which — along with some other ingredients — Humanity 2.0 might be built.

Here it is worth recalling that until the molecular (DNA) revolution in biology in the 1950s, it was common to think of our genetic makeup as a “burden”, very much like sin, that had to be suffered through or perhaps mitigated through propitious changes in one’s environment. The only other alternative course of action was some form of genocide. Modern drama after Ibsen brought this world-view into middle class drawing rooms. And of course, the violent directions in which eugenics — the prototype for today’s transhumanist projects — was often drawn in the first half of the 20th century projected these burdens of the flesh onto the world’s political stage. But already in 1943, Erwin Schrödinger’s Dublin lecture, “What Is Life?” had proposed that life is more an exploratory search for biochemically stable possibilities than the sort of path-dependent journeys either started (in religious terms) by Adam’s deed or pursued (in scientific terms) by Darwin’s theory. Despite speaking from the standpoint of a theoretical physicist for whom data are generated by thought experiments, Schrödinger’s vision managed to recruit a generation of molecular revolutionaries by providing a new take on the meaning of life — or at least resurrecting an older one that allowed humanity to recover its creative responsibility for life, as per a strong reading of the imago dei doctrine. Continue Reading…

Author Information: David C. Winyard, Virginia Tech, winyard.david@gmail.com

Winyard, David C. 2013. “Review of Steve Fuller, Humanity 2.0: What it Means to be Human Past, Present and Future.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2 (2): 16-18.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-Fe

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Steve Fuller. Humanity 2.0: What it Means to be Human Past, Present and Future. Palgrave Macmillan, 2011, Pp. 1, 265.

In his introduction to Humanity 2.0, Steve Fuller writes: “I have spent much of the past decade engaged in redefining the foundations of the social sciences in the face of a pincer attack from biology and theology” (3). The warfare analogy seems apt, for Fuller has made a habit of stepping into the no-man’s land between these rivals to seek peace. Unfortunately, his courage has exceeded his persuasiveness, for he continues to take fire from both sides.

The new fighting front is transhumanism, the application of technology to enhance human capabilities. Its advocates foresee an end to biological evolution — the old battleground — as an anthropogenic alternative takes over, with convergent technologies (CT) yielding god-like power to upgrade, alter, and even eliminate our physical bodies. Transhumanism’s pace, scope, and ethics raise anew old struggles over human nature and its place in the universe. Theology and then biology have offered their definitions of humanity, but transhumanism has raised new questions and rekindled simmering animosities. Fuller’s proposed peace treaty seeks to balance Christianity’s investments in science with biology’s need for religious motivations and heuristics. How does this deal appear to the combatants? Continue Reading…

Author Information: Sabrina Weiss, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, sabrinamweiss@gmail.com

Weiss, Sabrina. 2012. “Review of Humanity 2.0 by Steve Fuller.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 1 (3):6-9.

The PDF of the article gives specific page numbers. Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1Bfg0-9M

Please refer to: Winyard, David C. 2013. “Review of Steve Fuller, Humanity 2.0: What it Means to be Human Past, Present and Future.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2 (2): 16-18.

Humanity 2.0, by Steve Fuller, is a bold interjection into the landscape of oppositional discussions about progress, science, religion, and policy. Rather than quarantining modern secular intellectual thought from theology, Fuller embraces their shared lineage that forms the basis of discussions today on everything from human enhancement to novel instantiations of life. Through in-depth discussions of converging technologies (CT), the complex ideological and theological roots of Intelligent Design, and a proposal for empowering science education using theological tools, this work refuses to shy away from difficult questions about humanity’s future, instead seizing them vigorously and boldly. Whether for its concisely effective history of social epistemologies through theological roots or for its advocacy of shedding fear in favor of understanding, this book will be of use to students and scholars alike. Continue Reading…