Advertisement

Subhuman, Superhuman, and Inhuman: Human Nature and the Enhanced Athlete

  • Eric T. JuengstEmail author
Chapter
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 52)

Abstract

Some critics argue that the problem with performance enhancements in sports is that their use distorts the humanity of the athlete, in of three ways: (1) that performance enhancements demean athletes, by treating them as less than fully human; (2) that the use of enhancement interventions by athletes represent a wilful form of ‘playing God’, transcending the natural limits of human nature; or (3) that performance enhancements ‘dehumanize’ athletes by distorting natural talents with human artifice. These arguments all have standard rebuttals in the sports ethics literature, linked by the problem that, to be persuasive for policy purposes, they must assert boundaries for human nature without a substantive account of what those boundaries enclose. I argue that, while seductive, the content-less vision of human nature employed in these critiques leaves the critics in a dangerous trap: in their efforts to be fashionably agnostic about the content of human nature they are forced back into a hierarchical genetic essentialism for sports much like those that have so repeatedly proven oppressive in other spheres of human activity.

Keywords

Human Nature Natural Kind Performance Enhancement Athletic Performance Sport Competition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Bernstein, J., C. Perlis, and A. Bartolozzi. 2000. Ethics in sports medicine. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research 378: 50–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Buchanan, A. 2009. Human nature and enhancement. Bioethics 23: 141–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burke, Michael, and Terrance Roberts. 1997. Drugs in sport: An issue of morality or sentimentality? Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 24: 99–113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Coakley, J. 1998. Sport in society: Issues and controversies, 6th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  5. Cole-Turner, R. 1998. Do means matter? In Enhancing human traits: Ethical and social implications, ed. Parens Erik, 151–161. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Daniels, N. 2009. Can anyone really be talking about ethically modifying human nature? In Human enhancement, ed. Nick Bostrom and Julian Savulescu, 25–43. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Davis, L., and L. Delano. 1992. Fixing the boundaries of physical gender: Side effects of anti-drug campaigns in athletics. Sociology of Sport Journal 9(1): 1–19.Google Scholar
  8. Habermas, J. 2003. The future of human nature. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  9. Harris, J. 2011. Taking the “human” out of human rights. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 20: 9–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Hoberman, J. 1992. Mortal engines: The science of performance and the dehumanization of sport. Caldwell: The Blackburn Press.Google Scholar
  11. Joyner, M. 2004. Designer doping. Exercise and Sport Science Reviews 32(3): 81–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Juengst, E. 2009. Annotating the moral map of enhancement: Gene doping, the limits of medicine and the spirit of sport. In Ethics, genetics and the future of sport: Implications of genetic modification and genetic selection, ed. Thomas Murray, 175–204. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar
  13. Loland, S. 2002. Fair play in sport: A moral norm system. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Lustig, A. 2009. Are enhancement technologies “unnatural”? Musings on recent Christian conversations. American Journal of Medical Genetics. Part C, Seminars in Medical Genetics 151C: 81–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. McConnell, T. 2010. Genetic enhancement, human nature, and rights. The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 35: 415–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mehlman, M. 2003. Genetic enhancement and the future of society. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Miah, A. 2004. Genetically modified athletes: Biomedical ethics, gene doping and sport. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  18. Parens, E. 2005. Authenticity and ambivalence: Toward understanding the enhancement debate. The Hastings Center Report 35(3): 34–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. President’s Council on Bioethics. 2003. Beyond therapy: Biotechnology and the pursuit of happiness. http://bioethics.georgetown.edu/pcbe/reports/beyondtherapy. Accessed 27 Mar 2012.
  20. Robert, J., and F. Baylis. 2003. Crossing species boundaries. The American Journal of Bioethics 3(3): 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Sandel, M. 2004. The case against perfection: What’s wrong with designer children, bionic athletes and genetic engineering. The Atlantic Monthly 293: 51–62.Google Scholar
  22. Stout, J. 1988. Ethics after Babel: The languages of morals and their discontents. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Tamburrini, C. 2002. After doping, what? The morality of the genetic engineering of athletes. Sport Technology: History, Philosophy and Policy 21: 243–268.Google Scholar
  24. Tännsjö, T. 2000. Is our admiration for sports heroes fascistoid? In Values in sport: Elitism, nationalism gender equality and the scientific manufacture of winners, ed. Tännsjö Torbjörn and Tamburrini Claudio, 24–38. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  25. Tännsjö, T. 2005. Genetic engineering and elitism in sport. In Genetic technology and sport: Ethical questions, ed. Tamburrini Claudio and Tännsjö Torbjörn, 57–70. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  26. Unal, M., and D. Unal. 2004. Gene doping in sports. Sports Medicine 34: 357–362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. World Anti-Doping Agency. 2006. WADA note on artificially induced hypoxic conditions. http://www.mcst.go.kr/servlets/eduport/front/upload/UplDownloadFile?pFileName=Note%20on%20Hypoxia%20May%202006.pdf&pRealName=F362307.pdf&pPath=0404150000. Accessed 27 Mar 2012.
  28. Zylinska, J. 2010. Playing god, playing Adam: The politics and ethics of enhancement. Bioethical Inquiry 7: 149–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UNC Center for BioethicsUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

Personalised recommendations