NWI-FFIL215
Upgrading the Human
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleNWI-FFIL215
Credits (ECTS)3
CategoryMA (Master)
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Science; Institute for Science, Innovation and Society;
Lecturer(s)
Lecturer
L. Landeweerd
Other course modules lecturer
Lecturer
dr. P.C. Lemmens
Other course modules lecturer
Coordinator
dr. P.C. Lemmens
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. P.C. Lemmens
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2016
Period
KW3  (30/01/2017 to 09/04/2017)
Starting block
KW3/  KW4
Course mode
full-time
Remarks-
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesYes
Pre-registrationNo
Waiting listYes
Placement procedure-
Aims
  • The student is familiar with the phenomenon of human enhancement and its possible implications for the future of the human
  • The student is familiar with the most important human enhancement technologies and methods
  • The student has a thorough overview of the ethical, political and philosophical debate on human enhancement and is familiar with the most important concepts, issues and positions in this debate
  • The student has a thorough knowledge about the societal and economic drivers behind the human enhancement enterprise and human enhancement research
  • The student has insight in the deeper philosophical and anthropological questions behind the human enhancement enterprise
  • The student is able to position itself with respect to important issues in the ethical, political and philosophical debate on human enhancement
  • The student is able to apply the conceptual arsenal offered in this course to concrete cases of human enhancement
Content
Human enhancement is increasingly becoming part of today’s biomedical practice and, consequently, provides an increasingly prominent topic for mainstream ethical deliberation.  It can be broadly be defined as the application of science and technology - in particular so-called NBIC technologies (nano-, bio-, and information technology and the cognitive sciences) for upgrading or improving of human traits and /or capacities and introducing new ones.
Human enhancement technologies include genetic engineering, gene therapy, nootropics (e.g. Modafinil), brain computer interfaces, neuroimplants, tissue engineering, life extension technologies and cryogenics. Systematic application of these technologies in the future may lead, according to both proponents and opponents, to a substantial transformation of human qualities and ultimately perhaps to a change of ‘human nature’ as such (and the appearance of the 'transhuman' or  posthuman ').
In the still highly polarized political and ethical debate on human enhancement so-called ‘bioconservatives’ are still opposed to so-called ‘transhumanists’ but recently more nuanced approaches can be seen to emerge in both camps as well as from more neutral positions.

In this course, we want to initiate students in the ethical, political and philosophical debate on human enhancement and familiarize them with the major issues in this debate. We also want to introduce them into the historical, politico-economic and anthropo(techno)logical dimensions of human enhancement.
Literature
Texts will be made available via Blackboard.

Teaching formats

• 1.5 hours guided individual project work
• 8 hours lecture
• 8 hours problem session
• 66.5 hours individual study period
Extra information teaching methods: Lectures, plenary discussions and group presentations

Additional comments
• Attendance is mandatory
• A maximum of 20 students can enroll

Topics
Major topics discussed in this course include:

• Human enhancement in its various forms (bodily, cognitive, affective, etc.)
• Human enhancement technologies
• The ethics of human enhancement
• The politics of human enhancement
• Politico-economic and biopolitical aspects of human enhancement
• Human enhancement versus therapy
• Human enhancement versus eugenics
• Human enhancement, human nature and dehumanization
• Bioconservatism, transhumanism and posthumanism
• Human enhancement and the human-technology relationship
• Human enhancement, the self, and personal identity
• Human enhancement and utopic and dystopic projections
• Enhancement and ideologies of progress and their critiques

Test information
The examination and grading of the course is partly based on oral group presentations and participation in the discussions.
At the end of the course students are expected to write an essay on one of the topics discussed in the course (or a self-chosen topic closely related to the theme of the course) in which they apply the concepts and theories provided in the course

Required materials
Blackboard
Texts will be made available via Blackboard.

Instructional modes
Lecture
Attendance MandatoryYes

Project
Attendance MandatoryYes

Tutorial
Attendance MandatoryYes

Zelfstudie

Tests
Tentamen
Test weight1
OpportunitiesBlock KW3, Block KW4