Playing God

What is the problem?

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)

Abstract

To play God is supposedly to do something morally wrong and is a charge levelled at research and development in new technologies that enable, among other things, human enhancement. An attempt will be made to understand what this charge means in a non-religious context where nature replaces god. From a secular standpoint it usually means that an action is interfering with nature. This raises the possibility of creating a Frankenstein monster that cannot be controlled and is therefore morally wrong. One difficulty is that if humans are part of the natural world then everything that we do is as natural as birds building nests. The argument here, after distinguishing two concepts of nature and using geoengineering as an example, will be that the dramatic technological manipulation of humans, life, and matter is rapidly extending the scope of human control and thus thrusting humans into unfamiliar situations where they do not have the competence to make good decisions. This is playing God with defensible content and moral significance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe ethics of human enhancement
Subtitle of host publicationUnderstanding the debate
EditorsSteve Clarke, Julian Savulescu, Tony Coady, Alberto Giubilini, Sagar Sanyal
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
PublisherOxford University Press
Chapter6
Pages1-21
Number of pages21
Edition1st
ISBN (Print)9780198754855
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Fingerprint

Playing God
Deity
Nature
Human Enhancement
Natural World
Manipulation
Concepts of Nature
Frankenstein
Birds
Controlled
Human Life

Cite this

Weckert, J. (2016). Playing God: What is the problem? In S. Clarke, J. Savulescu, T. Coady, A. Giubilini, & S. Sanyal (Eds.), The ethics of human enhancement: Understanding the debate (1st ed., pp. 1-21). United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198754855.003.0006
Weckert, John. / Playing God : What is the problem?. The ethics of human enhancement: Understanding the debate. editor / Steve Clarke ; Julian Savulescu ; Tony Coady ; Alberto Giubilini ; Sagar Sanyal. 1st. ed. United Kingdom : Oxford University Press, 2016. pp. 1-21
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Weckert, J 2016, Playing God: What is the problem? in S Clarke, J Savulescu, T Coady, A Giubilini & S Sanyal (eds), The ethics of human enhancement: Understanding the debate. 1st edn, Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, pp. 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198754855.003.0006

Playing God : What is the problem? / Weckert, John.

The ethics of human enhancement: Understanding the debate. ed. / Steve Clarke; Julian Savulescu; Tony Coady; Alberto Giubilini; Sagar Sanyal. 1st. ed. United Kingdom : Oxford University Press, 2016. p. 1-21.

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperChapter (peer-reviewed)

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Weckert J. Playing God: What is the problem? In Clarke S, Savulescu J, Coady T, Giubilini A, Sanyal S, editors, The ethics of human enhancement: Understanding the debate. 1st ed. United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. 2016. p. 1-21 https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198754855.003.0006