“Progressive” Bioconservatives

Thoughts on the strange political bedfellows of bioethics, from Ron Bailey:

These progressive bioconservatives fear that the rich and powerful will use technology, especially biotech, to outcompete and oppress the poor and weak. In their view, human dignity depends on human equality. It turns out that “the party of science” really is just the old-fashioned “party of equality,” science be damned (unless its findings conform to egalitarian ideology). Left-wing biocons seem to believe that protecting human dignity requires the rich and poor to remain equally diseased, disabled, and dead.

It’s always amazing to me to see the people who claim to be the “party of science” so fundamentally in denial of human nature. But of course, if they recognized it, their entire ideology falls apart. But this conflict is one more reason we need to expand off planet.

7 thoughts on ““Progressive” Bioconservatives

  1. Darkstar

    One thing I’ve seen in my years is that a Moore’s Law applies to medical technology, so denying advances to the rich today denies it to the poor tomorrow.

  2. Amy Alkon

    “Left-wing biocons seem to believe that protecting human dignity requires the rich and poor to remain equally diseased, disabled, and dead.”

    Disgusting. Especially since there’s a trickle-down of human life-improving discoveries.

    Thanks for blogging this — just tweeted that quote but didn’t have space to credit your blog for leading me to the piece.

  3. ams

    From the article: “Instead, the ideal of political equality arose from the Enlightenment’s insistence that since no one has access to absolute truth, no one has a moral right to impose his values and beliefs on others.”

    Why does *everyone* get this wrong. We don’t recognize each other’s rights because they are equal down to the last personality quirk. We don’t recognize each other’s rights because we’re *ignorant* (my God, is that a no-win battle, or what?) We don’t (or, at least, *shouldn’t*) recognize each other’s rights because of weakness and interdependence in our position.

    I don’t understand why almost no one, liberal, conservative, whatever, seems to arrive at a conclusion that seems one of the few sane ones to me:
    That we recognize each other’s rights because we all have motives of our *own*, and for civilization to exist without us being at war with each other, de-facto or de-jure, we need to respect each other’s rights to pursue those goals, as long as they don’t violate the rights of others.

    That’s also why Eugenics was evil – not because it wouldn’t work, but because it treated the lives of people’s children as means to someone else’s end.

    If barely anyone can understand this, then the country *won’t* navigate these moral issues well at all. Nazis to one side, Neo-clericists to the other.

  4. ams

    “That’s also why Eugenics was evil – not because it wouldn’t work, but because it treated the lives of people’s children as means to someone else’s end.”

    Well, qualification on that last point:
    Not that it wouldn’t work if it truly was administered by disinterested technocrats – we do, after all, understand the principles of selective breeding by now. But then, when you’ve set up a war over whose children get to survive, you can’t find too many disinterested monsters to run your programs, and are left with very interested and politically skewed criteria.

    The only way out that I can see is for people to understand and respect the autonomy of the individual, his goals, his motives, and to stop treating each other as raw material for some utopia or another.

    1. Darkstar

      Hey, it worked!

      And the commenters on the jwz.org post have already hit both the “This Must Be Suppressed Because It Can Be Used for Genocide” and “Only The Rich First World Can Afford This” memes.

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