Defining Human Enhancement: towards a foundational conceptual tool for Enhancement Law

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  • Ana Nordberg
Emerging technologies open the prospect of extraordinary interventions on the human body. These may go beyond what is strictly necessary to sustain health and well-being. While responding to social and ethical challenges of such advances, the Law simultaneously faces the challenge of reflecting on the legitimacy to legislate and on whether the existing legal framework is appropriate to address the various concerns. In order to do so, it is crucial to establish clear legal definitions. Precise distinctions between interventions on the human body are intrinsically difficult to formulate. However, subject-matter definitions are vital legal tools to determine what is currently regulated in established fields of law and whether there is room for a new legal field – Enhancement Law. This paper provides a reflection on the relevance of establishing a legal definition of human enhancement and to what extent different legal fields and jurisdictions may warrant different understandings of such concept. It reviews a number of different and often divergent concepts and taxonomies of human enhancement and concludes with the proposal and analysis of a definition: Use of technological means with the intention to improve, modify or introduce in the human body aesthetic features, physical, emotional or cognitive performance levels and abilities beyond the human species typical standards under the current evolutionary state, and resulting in induced permanent alterations in the human body.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Law, Information & Science
Issue number3
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Nov 2017

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Law - Human Enhancement, Induced evolution, Law & Technonology, Legal interpretation, Neurolaw, regulating emerging tech

ID: 160667856