Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 8-8-2020


One-year Embargo

Submission Type


Degree Name



Health Care Ethics


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Joris Gielen

Committee Member

Peter Ikechukwu Osuji

Committee Member

Gerard Macgill


transhumanism, genetic engineering, biopolitics, personhood, bioethics, human rights


In this dissertation the question addressed is the ethical protocol that should be used when enhanced, post or transhumans present themselves as patients to hospitals, or as subjects for scientific research. With the advent of the birth of four children who were genetically engineered in China to be resistant to HIV, I contend that transhumans are already here, and the prevailing Western paradigm of principlism, while good, is not adequate to the task. I explore the basic religious argument that can be used against or in favor of what I call human-directed human evolution. I show how the fears of new kinds of persons are can be traced not just to myth, but also to the genre of science fiction. I start with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, through Star-Trek’s Borg Queen, and forward to BBC America’s “Orphan Black”. The argument for moral enhancement, a concept for which Julian Savulescu argues, is examined as is Nick Bostrom’s explication of superintelligence, and his joining Savulescu’s call for an enhancement of moral values. Several technologies currently in use for genetic testing, and that can be used for genetic engineering will be explained. These include preimplantation genetic diagnosis and mitochondrial replacement techniques (MRT), which are used to avoid birth defects in potential offspring. CRISPR-Cas9, TALENs, cloning and haploid stem cells are the technologies that not only can be used to develop specific treatment mechanisms, but they are the mechanisms that will allow humankind to engineer new kinds of persons, thus creating transhumans. From here I address the two prevailing sides of how to proceed: precaution where we move slowly trying to ascertain and prepare for any negative eventuality, and proaction where we move directly ahead after we have done all we can to prepare but opt to adjust along the way as the need arises. The ethical argument I make for the protocol that I think must be adopted does not just come from an examination of principlism. I also incorporate concepts from Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam, Hinduism and African philosophy. I posit that two other principles are needed: Particularity and Intrinsic Personhood.