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J Med Philos. 2003 Apr;28(2):131-50.

Human nature: how normative might it be?

Author information

1
Department of Philosophy, University of M√ľnster, Germany. bayertz@uni-muenster.de

Abstract

The question of the moral status of human nature is today being posed above all under the influence of medical and biotechnological aspects. These facilitate not only an increasing number of, but also increasingly far-reaching interventions and manipulations in humans, so that the perspective of a gradual "technologization" of his physical constitution can no longer be regarded as merely utopian. Some authors are convinced that this disturbing development can only be halted when an inherent value is (once again) ascribed to human nature. After a short description of this situation (I), the following paper first examines the difficulties that arise as regards an adequately precise descriptive definition of human nature (II) and, in a second step, the problems posed by the necessity to define the normative status of human nature (III). It hereby comes to the conclusion that a precise definition of "human nature" is not possible for fundamental reasons, and that only a weak normativity can be warranted.

PMID:
12943211
DOI:
10.1076/jmep.28.2.131.14210
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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