Transhumanist Utopias: Rethinking Enhancement and Disability
Hall, Melinda Charis
Working at the nexus of bioethics and disability studies, I argue that the quest for human enhancement is at least partially motivated by the rejection of the disabled body. In other words, positive and negative eugenics are paired together in bioethical treatments of enhancement. To demonstrate this, I critically assess the work of transhumanist bioethicists Nick Bostrom and Julian Savulescu, who strongly promote an assortment of enhancement strategies as moral obligations. I carry my assessment forward by drawing from Michel Foucault and feminist disability studies and using the transhumanist strategy of negative genetic selection as a case study. I claim that transhumanism is perniciously utopian; it figures disability as a site of risk and seeks the proliferation of choice for a utopian agent through radical medical interventions. Marking this restrictive “location” of disability, which defines disability against a utopian body, I describe parallels between bioethical and political images of disability by investigating the “location” of disability in liberal theory. Both locations are restrictive and attach stigma to persons with disabilities.