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Habermas on _The Future of Human Nature_

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  • Gary E. Davis
    I came across a lecture that JH gave in Paris, 2001, soon after publishing _The Future of Human Nature_, in which he gave a condensed version of his book s
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 1, 2013
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      I came across a lecture that JH gave in Paris, 2001, soon after publishing _The Future of Human Nature_, in which he gave a condensed version of his book's argument. So, that's JH's own review of his book. Then Cristina Lafont provided a response. It was published in the American Philosophical Association Newsletter on "Philosophy and Medicine," 2003. Here's a PDF of it:

      A Sketch of L’avenir de la nature humaine 
      http://dl.dropbox.com/u/36809571/JHab/JH_on_FHN_Dec.2001.pdf

      I've deleted the remainder of the newsletter (articles unrelated to JH's lecture), but kept the editor's introductory page, which mentions material I've deleted. 


      Eventually, all of the marginal English material by JH that I put in the Yahoo! Groups "File" area years ago will be moved to the Dropbox location that doesn't require subscription to access (not that subscription is prohibitive—though you have to go through Yahoo! account set-up, if you don't already have one, which can feel like a hassle). Nonsubscribers have always been able to access the postings of the group online, but not the "Files" area. 

      The group seems to be dead, but there are still living members. One, Daniel Henrich, recently published an article on JH's _The Future of Human Nature_, in a not-easily-available journal titled _Ethical Perspectives_. Here's the very interesting abstract: 

      "Human Nature and Autonomy. Jurgen Habermas' Critique of Liberal Eugenics"
      http://www.ethical-perspectives.be/page.php?LAN=E&FILE=ep_detail&ID=149&TID=1331


      This essay examines whether Habermas' approach to bioethics implies that the ethical challenges of eugenics cannot be answered within the scope of a deontological account, but only with reference to a concept of the good life or a normative anthropology. First, Habermas' 'argument against alien determination' is elaborated, based on an action-theoretical concept of 'human nature' which is analyzed in the part three. Habermas' main objection against genetic engineering, namely that it entails a reification of human nature by undermining the consciousness of autonomy of the genetically manipulated person, is also discussed. Subsequently, his concept of human nature as a condition of possibility of our ethical self-understanding, which is expressed in the phrase 'ethics of the species', is introduced. It is argued that this term clearly indicates Habermas' departure from the path of deontological ethics. Moreover, this essay asserts that two readings of the
      argument against alien determination are possible (a weak and a quasi-transcendental one) and that the expression 'consciousness of autonomy' therefore remains ambiguous. The fourth part of the paper deals with the question whether or not the argument against alien determination is conditional on the assumption of genetic determinism. In part five, the author claims that in contrast to earlier conceptions, Habermas now implicitly raises the question 'Why be moral?' and at the same time refuses to address it. The essay concludes with two different anthropological accounts that can be found in Habermas' work and that might be helpful to correct the anthropological deficiency of his bioethical account.


      I've asked Daniel for a PDF of his essay (since the journal isn't in my library and evidently copies of single articles can't be purchased), but he hasn't responded yet. 

      I expect to get back to posting this year. I've read somewhere that Yahoo! intends to upgrade the group discussion platform, as part of the goals of the new leadership. Maybe the groups software will become more friendly to embedded links on distributed postings, etc. 

      I wish you a fruitful new year!

      Gary

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    • Gary E. Davis
      I do hope to hear back from Daniel, because issues of liberal eugenics will become only more timely as genomic bioscience continues its accomplishments. 
      Message 2 of 2 , Jan 1, 2013
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        I do hope to hear back from Daniel, because issues of "liberal eugenics" will become only more timely as genomic bioscience continues its accomplishments. 

        I'm very interested in this, though I don't know that I'll dwell with it again soon, because I have other commitments. But I can be drawn into it again, at least because it's a long-term, very deliberate interest of mine (e.g., I own a large group of recent books on the area). 

        Some subscribers will recall that, once upon a time, Habermasian discussion was a very lively endeavor by engaged readers of Habermas' work. At the Spoon Collective, I got very involved with a reading of JH's essay on liberal eugenics soon after it first appeared.

        In late October and early November, 2001, I posted at much length, and there was good response. 

        October, 2001
        http://www.driftline.org/cgi-bin/archive/archive.cgi?list=spoon-archives/habermas.archive/habermas_2001/habermas.0110


        My substantive postings were postings #s: 

        77
        87
        105
        107
        110
        113
        114
        116

        November, 2001
        http://www.driftline.org/cgi-bin/archive/archive.cgi?list=spoon-archives/habermas.archive/habermas_2001/habermas.0111


        1
        2
        3
        6
        7
        10
        14
        23
        25
        26
        28

        heady days.

        Gary


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