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Bioethics declaration may affect Nanoethics

Not everyone is a big fan of the United Nations or UNESCO, but the wording of their declarations has impact, and we can expect this year’s bioethics declaration (PDF format) to have an effect on later nanoethics documents. Here’s a clause that may come into play on the question of human enhancement: “The autonomy of persons to make decisions, while taking responsibility for those decisions and respecting the autonomy of others, is to be respected.”

See also: “The importance of cultural diversity and pluralism should be given due regard. However, such considerations are not to be invoked to infringe upon human dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms, nor upon the principles set out in this Declaration, nor to limit their scope.”

Interesting side note: “[C]ultural diversity, as a source of exchange, innovation and creativity, is necessary for humankind and, in this sense, is the common heritage of humanity, but emphasizing that it may not be invoked at the expense of human rights and fundamental freedoms…”

Here’s the tricky part: “Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any claim to engage in any activity or to perform any act contrary to human rights, fundamental freedoms and human dignity.” The challenges arise when one group’s perception of freedom conflicts with another group’s perception of human dignity, of course. See comments by Nigel Cameron in Christianity Today.

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