Our Posthuman Future: Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution

by Francis Fukuyama (Author)

Editorial Reviews

Maybe we have a future after all: Our Posthuman Future is political historian
Francis Fukuyama's reconsideration of his 1989 announcement that history had
reached an end. He claims that science, particularly genome studies, offers
radical changes, possibly more profound than anything since the development of
language, in the way we think about human nature. He makes his case thoroughly
and eloquently, rarely dipping into philosophical or critical jargon and
consistently maintaining an informal tone.

Fukuyama is deeply concerned about the erosion of the foundations of liberal
democracy under pressure from new concepts of humans and human rights, and most
readers will find some room for agreement. Ultimately, he argues for strong
international regulation of human biotechnology and thoughtfully disposes of the
most compelling counterarguments. While readers might not agree that we're at
risk of creating Huxley's Brave New World, it's hard to deny that things are
changing quickly and that perhaps we ought to consider the changes before
they're irrevocable.

From Publishers Weekly
Fukuyama (The End of History and the Last Man; Trust) is no stranger to
controversial theses, and here he advances two: that there are sound
nonreligious reasons to put limits on biotechnology, and that such limits can be
enforced. Fukuyama argues that "the most significant threat" from biotechnology
is "the possibility that it will alter human nature and thereby move us into a
`posthuman' stage of history." The most obvious way that might happen is through
the achievement of genetically engineered "designer babies," but he presents
other, imminent routes as well: research on the genetic basis of behavior;
neuropharmacology, which has already begun to reshape human behavior through
drugs like Prozac and Ritalin; and the prolongation of life, to the extent that
society might come "to resemble a giant nursing home." Fukuyama then draws on
Aristotle and the concept of "natural right" to argue against unfettered
development of biotechnology. His claim is that a substantive human nature
exists, that basic ethical principles and political rights such as equality are
based on judgments about that nature, and therefore that human dignity itself
could be lost if human nature is altered. Finally, he argues that state power,
possibly in the form of new regulatory institutions, should be used to regulate
biotechnology, and that pessimism about the ability of the global community to
do this is unwarranted. Throughout, Fukuyama avoids ideological straitjackets
and articulates a position that is neither Luddite nor laissez-faire. The result
is a well-written, carefully reasoned assessment of the perils and promise of
biotechnology, and of the possible safeguards against its misuse. (Apr.)
Forecast: As the FSG publicity material notes, Fukuyama famously declared in the
wake of communism's collapse that "the major alternatives to liberal democracy"
had "exhausted themselves." This less dramatic assessment should still win a
hearing, if not among scientists then among a public concerned about science's growing power.

Product Details

Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Picador (May 1, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312421710



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