Debate 1

11:15 – 13:15 - Debate 1 - Moderator: Dr. Alina Landowska

Unlike Allies: Transhumanism and The Catholic Church

Prof. Alcibiades Malapi-Nelson

There is a default view which asserts that transhumanism, a philosophy of human enhancement, is inherently at odds with Catholic doctrine. The argument goes like this: Catholic theology relies on Thomistic philosophy, which is underpinned by Aristotelianism. Aristotle’s ethics is incompatible with transhumanism, which largely relies on ‘morphological freedom’ – better accommodated in utilitarianism. Thus, Catholicism must be inimical to transhumanist pursuits. Regardless of whether transhumanism is essentially at odds with virtue ethics and Thomism — in itself a problematic position — the claimed antagonism between transhumanism and the Catholic Church (due to the latter’s ostensible dependence on Thomistic philosophy) can still be eroded. I advance that the Church’s doctrinal developments of the last century steer away from Thomism, aligning her more directly with the transhumanist pillars of human survival, flourishing and dignity – in contraposition with the alternative (and contrary) force: posthumanism. 

Moral scenarios and challenges from (bio)enhancement

Prof. Maurizio Balistreri

Human enhancement is related to morality on a variety of levels.  First and foremost, an exploration of human enhancement projects is connected to morality since we can and indeed must reason on the moral acceptability of improvement interventions. Moreover, we do not want to know only whether, from a moral point of view, it is morally acceptable to carry out interventions to improve our dispositions. We also want to understand what kind of enhancement of human nature is morally acceptable. Finally, we could possibly use new technologies and modify human nature, thereby making human beings more moral. I will argue that there is nothing objectionable in the moral enhancement project but that we cannot make human beings more moral simply by changing their nature because morality is a practice acquired with experience and training.

Morality in the world of transhumanist happiness

Prof. Agnieszka Lekka-Kowalik

In our world morality is based on the recognition of the rational, free and potentialized human nature and on the distinction between good and evil. Each human decision can be evaluated as moral/immoral and it brings inner (becoming a person of a certain type) and outer (influencing the world and other humans) consequences. With each decision a human being comes closer or further from the fulfillment of her essence. Moral actions are required of humans, because they are able to recognize the normative dimension of essences. The transhumanist project refuses the existence of any permanent human nature (essence). By a technoscientific means it aims at enhancing all possibilities present in current humans and at building a world of happiness consisting of the achieving of all desired aims and possessing ever new experiences by (among others) post-human. Does morality have any place in the transhumanist world? The paper considers this issue under two aspects: (a) the idea of moral enhancement as a way to secure the goodness of desires and experiences; (b) the idea of personhood of post-human being and its normative dimension. The analysis leads to the following answer: without assuming the normative dimension of the post-human entities as as well as their dignity somehow justified, morality would not have any place in the post-human world and will be replaced with power. 

Debate 1 - Moderator

Dr. Alina M. Landowska

She is an assistant professor of digital humanities at the Chair of Culture and Media at the Faculty of Humanities at SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities (Warsaw), an associate member of the Laboratory of The New Ethos at Warsaw University of Technology, as well as a member of the Research Council of the UAM Centre for Axiology of New Technologies and Social Change. Her research interests centre around culture change in digitalized space, especially related to the morality of leaders and their rhetoric. She is a member of the Cultural Evolution Society. She is a scholarship holder at domestic and foreign universities, e.g., Tantur Ecumenic Institute in Jerusalem (University of Notre Dame, USA), The Baltic University Program (Uppsala, Sweden), Gdansk University of Technology.