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This chapter seeks to advance two central claims: 1) that the therapy-enhancement distinction is not an absolute one; and 2) that the social model of disability can be applied as at least one possible criterion for evaluating the ethics of enhancement. First, I address the limits of the therapy-enhancement distinction by showing that some accepted forms of therapy are indeed enhancements in their own right. The line between enhancement and therapy in medicine is therefore not clear-cut, but nor is the difference between enhancement and disability straightforward either, as I argue. I discuss how some forms of apparent enhancement may in fact make people disabled from a social point-of-view, for they would not be able to function well in a society “fine-tuned” towards the current average range of abilities. Enhancement is therefore a slippery notion, and one that brings into relief questions of equity and of oppression. If enhancement is meant to be a key stepping stone on the path towards a posthuman condition, as some claim, then the ambiguous nature of enhancement surely throws into the question the coherence of the “post” in “posthuman.”



Book title

Bioethics and the Posthumanities



Publication Date



Enhancement, Social Model of Disability, Transhumanism