© 2013

Human Being @ Risk

Enhancement, Technology, and the Evaluation of Vulnerability Transformations

  • First book to argue that posthuman existence also implies new vulnerabilities

  • Integrates Risk Theory with Philosophical Anthropology

  • Offers an original ethical and political analysis of vulnerability in the information age?


Part of the Philosophy of Engineering and Technology book series (POET, volume 12)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Mark Coeckelbergh
    Pages 1-16
  3. Descriptive Anthropology of Vulnerability

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 17-17
    2. Mark Coeckelbergh
      Pages 19-36
    3. Mark Coeckelbergh
      Pages 37-62
    4. Mark Coeckelbergh
      Pages 63-83
  4. Normative Anthropology of Vulnerability

  5. Conclusion

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 201-201
    2. Mark Coeckelbergh
      Pages 203-205
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 207-218

About this book


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.​


Aesthetics Vulnerability Anthropology Technology Anthropology Vulnerability Arendt Capability Approach Technology Cyber Security Digital Human being Ethics Information age Ethics Information technology Ethics Science-fiction Ethics Vulnerability Existence Vulnerability Heidegger Human Enhancement Imagination Future Phenomenology Anthropology Phenomenology Technology Philosophy Cyberspace Philosophy Technology Plessner Politics Vulnerability Risk and philosophy Security Information Technology Social Technology Social construction of Risk Spiritual Technology Technological Vulnerability Technology Human values Technology Tragedy Transhumanism Vulnerbility

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of TwenteEnschedeNetherlands

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Human Being @ Risk
  • Book Subtitle Enhancement, Technology, and the Evaluation of Vulnerability Transformations
  • Authors Mark Coeckelbergh
  • Series Title Philosophy of Engineering and Technology
  • Series Abbreviated Title Philosophy Engineering,Tec.
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Humanities, Social Sciences and Law Philosophy and Religion (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-94-007-6024-0
  • Softcover ISBN 978-94-007-9918-9
  • eBook ISBN 978-94-007-6025-7
  • Series ISSN 1879-7202
  • Series E-ISSN 1879-7210
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIV, 218
  • Number of Illustrations 0 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Philosophy of Man
    Philosophy of Technology
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Coeckelbergh is a Belgian philosopher of technology and professor at the University of Vienna. In this interesting book, he proposes a new approach to the transhumanism debate by focusing on human vulnerability. … the book offers a new approach to the transhumanist debate, suggesting and provoking many inputs and questions … . it reminds us of the necessity and urgency of dealing with the transhumanist question, which is not only a future question, but a current one.” (Luis Torró Ferrero, ESSSAT News & Reviews, Vol. 26 (4), December, 2016)

“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 … . author has succeeded in crafting a much more profound and sophisticated ethical and political perspective on human enhancement than almost any other book … . It deserves to be widely read and has the potential of becoming a key reference for the debate on enhancement.” (Pieter Lemmens, Human Studies, Vol. 37, 2014)

“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, Law, Innovation and Technology, Vol. 5 (2), 2013)