Human Being @ Risk

Human Being @ Risk

Human Being @ Risk

Enhancement, Technology, and the Evaluation of Vulnerability Transformations.

(Springer 2013)


Abstract. Whereas standard approaches to risk and vulnerability presuppose a strict separation between humans and their world, this book develops an existential-phenomenological approach according to which we are always already beings-at-risk. Moreover, it is argued that in our struggle against vulnerability, we create new vulnerabilities and thereby transform ourselves as much as we transform the world. Responding to the discussion about human enhancement and information technologies, the book then shows that this dynamic-relational approach has important implications for the evaluation of new technologies and their risks. It calls for a normative anthropology of vulnerability that does not ask which objective risks are acceptable, how we can become invulnerable, or which technologies threaten human nature, but which vulnerability transformations we want. To the extent that we can steer the growth of new technologies at all, this tragic and sometimes comic project should therefore be guided by what we want to become.

Review by Yoni Van Den Eede in Science, Technology, & Human Values

Review by Andrea Bertolini in Politica & Società

Review by Pieter Lemmens in Human Studies

Review by Bert-Jaap Koops in Law, Innovation and Technology

Review by Nikki Olson on website Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies

Review by Russell Blackford in Journal of Evolution and Technology

Press release (in Dutch) on University of Twente website

Announcement on website KurzweilAI

About Human Being @ Risk:

“Coeckelbergh elegantly succeeds in shedding new light not just on the human enhancement debate, by zooming in on it from a new angle, but also on our human condition as such. His analysis of the enhancement debate is one of the most comprehensive and fine-grained in the current literature. The careful, many-sided elaboration of the vulnerability notion adds to that a lenient framework that will be of help to many in the field of STS and the philosophy of technology.”

Yoni Van Den Eede in Science, Technology, & Human Values

Coeckelbergh presents a rather persuasive depiction of the relationship of man and technology; even more it provides a possible common ground for a legal and political discourse to take place between transhumanists and bioconservatives.” Andrea Bertolini in Political & Società

this book is an outstanding reflection on the far-reaching implications of the new ICT and HET for the human condition (as a vulnerable condition). It is thoroughly unique and original in showing the importance and extreme usefulness of philosophical anthropology and the phenomenological tradition for thinking through the consequences of the epochal technological mutations of our time, in particular concerning HET. By imaginatively employing the rich conceptual apparatuses offered by these traditions, and through many fine phenomenological analyses, the author has succeeded in crafting a much more profound and sophisticated ethical and political perspective on human enhancement than almost any other book on the subject that I know of. It deserves to be widely read and has the potential of becoming a key reference for the debate on enhancement.”

Pieter Lemmens in Human Studies

The book offers a complex and ambitious programme to establish a normative anthropology of vulnerability … . Coeckelbergh has written an important and original book, with a carefully constructed argument. He provides a rich discussion of fundamental and topical issues from a wide range of perspectives. … The book is valuable for scholars in many fields, not only philosophy of technology, anthropology or ethics, but also other disciplines dealing with technology and regulation of technology.”

Bert-Jaap Koops in Law, Innovation and Technology

a thoughtful and bold exercise in relating Transhumanist discourse to historic and present day academic existentialism and anthropology … a considered evaluation of core Transhumanist beliefs. … It explores a lot of terrain, including ethics, politics and aesthetics, meditates on rich and meaningful aspects of the human condition and psyche, and explores issues relevant to anyone interested in a broader, conceptual, more existential address of the human-technology relationship.”

Nikki Olson on website Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies

Coeckelbergh develops an impressive case that all our technological and social measures create new sources of vulnerability … Coeckelbergh drives home an important point for our debates about the human future. … Human Being @ Risk identifies important choices that we must debate as we imagine and (to a limited extent) plan the future of humanity. It raises issues that are fundamental to ongoing thinking about how to better the human condiction. On that basis, I hope to see widespread discussion of its central arguments and what their implications might be for the human future. There is much here to discuss.”

Russell Blackford in Journal of Evolution and Technology