Transhumanism, Vulnerability and Human Dignity

  • Fernando H. Llano University of Seville
Keywords: transhumanism, human dignity, artificial intelligence, robotics, biogenetics, legal philosophy


The transhumanist movement is much more than a simple utopia, a new school of thought or a fashionable ideology; as a matter of fact, it is a scientific and philosophical project that is already underway, and defends the use of the most advanced emerging new technologies —from biogenetics to computing, from nanotechnology to cognitive sciences, to robotics and Artificial Intelligence— with the clear goal to exponentially increase the physical, cognitive, sensory, moral and emotional capabilities of human beings. Transhumanism entails a change in the anthropocentric paradigm defended by humanism, and aims to break through the limits of nature, which until recently we deemed insurmountable, in order to create a new species that is more evolved than the Homo sapiens: the Homo excelsior, a posthuman species which is superior to ours, composed by exceptionally gifted beings that have been genetically selected, designed and improved and which —according to the transhumanist imaginary— will dominate the posthuman future and will be happier, more virtuous, long-lived and intelligent than us. In this article, we propose technological humanism as an intermediate formula in the doctrinal debate between bioprogressive and bioconservative legal philosophers, so as to make possible the development of scientific research and the advancement of new technologies, although without ever having to sacrifice dignity and liberty, which are inherent qualities of the human being (who has to be viewed, in Kantian terms, as an end in itself).

Received: 22 May 2019
Accepted: 10 September 2019
Published online: 20 December 2019


Atencia-Páez, José María. 2003. “Ortega y Gasset, meditador de la técnica”. Argumentos de Razón Técnica 3: 61-95.

Ballesteros, Jesús. 2007. “Biotecnología, biopolítica y posthumanismo”. In Biotecnología y posthumanismo, edited by Jesús Ballesteros and Encarnación Fernández, 21-46. Cizur Menor (Navarra): Thomson-Aranzadi.

Beck, Ulrich. 2016. The Metamorphosis of the World. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Bostrom, Nick. 2007. The Future of Humanity. Oxford: Faculty of Philosophy & James Martin 21st Century School. Oxford: Oxford University.

Buchanan, Allen. 2000. From Chance to Choice. Genetics and Justice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Buchanan, Allen. 2011a. Better than Human. The Promise and Perils of Enhancing Ourselves. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Buchanan, Allen. 2011b. Beyond Humanity? The Ethics of Biomedical Enhancement. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Diéguez, Antonio. 2017. Transhumanismo. La búsqueda tecnológica del mejoramiento humano. Barcelona: Herder.

Dworkin, Ronald. 2000. “Playing God: Genes, clones, and luck”. In Sovereign Virtue. The Theory of Practice of Equality, 427-452. Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press.

Fernández Ruiz-Gálvez, Encarnación. 2007. “Crítica filosófica del posthumanismo: Gabriel Marcel”. In Biotecnología y posthumanismo, edited by Jesús Ballesteros and Encarnación Fernández, 81-108. Cizur Menor (Navarra): Thomson-Aranzadi.

Ferry, Luc. 2017. La révolution transhumaniste: comment la technomédecine et l´uberisation du monde vont bouleverser nos vies. Paris: Plon.

Frosini, Vittorio. 1986. L´uomo artificiale. Etica e diritto nell´era planetaria. Milano: Spirali.

Fukuyama, Francis. 2002. Our Posthuman Future. Consequences of the Biotechnology Revolution. New York: Picador/Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Habermas, Jürgen. 1968. “Technischer Fortschritt und sociale Lebenswelt”. In Technik und Wissenschaft als “Ideologie”, 104-118. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag.

Habermas, Jürgen. 1981. “Modernity versus Postmodernity”. New German Critique 22: 3-14. Seyla Ben-Habib.

Habermas, Jürgen. 2003. The Future of Human Nature. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Harari, Yuval Noah. 2014. Sapiens. A Brief History of Humankind. London: Penguin Random House.

Harari, Yuval Noah. 2017. Homo Deus. A Brief History of Tomorrow. London: Vintage Penguin Random House.

Heidegger, Martin. 1989. Entrevista del “Spiegel”, trad. Esp. R. Rodríguez. Madrid: Tecnos.

Jonas, Hans. 1984. The Imperative of Responsability: In Search of an Ethic for the Technological Age. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Kant, Immanuel. 1968. Kritik der praktischen Vernunft (1788). In Kants Werke (V), Akademie Textausgabe. Unveränderter photomechanischer Abdruck von Kants gesammelte Schriften. Herausgegeben von der Königlich Preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1-164. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co.

Lewis, Clive Staples. 2002. The Abolition of Man. New York: The Agustine Club at Columbia University.

Llano-Alonso, Fernando. 2018. Homo Excelsior. Los límites ético-jurídicos del transhumanismo. Valencia: Tirant lo Blanch.

Masuda, Yoneji. 1980. The Information Society as Post-industrial Society, Tokyo: Institute for the Information Society.

More, Max. 1990. “Transhumanism: Toward a futurist philosophy”. Extropy 6: 6-11.

More, Max. 2013. “The Philosophy of Transhumanism”. In The Transhumanist Reader, edited by. Max More and Natasha Vita-More, 3-17. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Navajas, Gonzalo. 2007. Ortega y Gasset, la técnica y la nueva comunicación. Alicante: Biblioteca Virtual Miguel de Cervantes/Asociación Internacional de Hispanistas. atencia paez ortega y gasset, la técnica y la nueva comunicación.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. 2005. Thus Spoke Zarathustra. A Book for Everyone and Nobody. Transl. G. Parks. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nozick, Robert. 1974. Anarchy, State and Utopia. New York: Basic Books.

Ortega y Gasset, José. 1939. “Meditación de la técnica”. In Obras completas (V). 551-605. Madrid: Taurus/Fundación José Ortega y Gasset.

Pérez Luño, Antonio-Enrique. 2004 ¿Ciberciudadanía o Barcelona: Gedisa.

Pérez Luño, Antonio-Enrique. 2012. Los derechos humanos en la sociedad tecnológica. Madrid: Universitas.

Sandel, Michael J. 2005. Embryo Ethics: “The Moral Logic of Stem Cell Research”. In Public Philosophy. Essays on Morality in Politics. 117-120. Cambridge (Massachusetts)-London: Harvard University Press.

Sandel, Michael J. 2007. The Case against Perfection. Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering. Cambridge (Massachusetts)-London: Harvard University Press.

Sartori, Giovanni. 1997. Homo videns.Televisione e post-pensiero. Roma-Bari: Laterza.

Singer, Peter. 2002. Unsanctifying Human Life. Helga Kuhse (Editor). London: Wiley-Blackwell Publishers.

Singer, Peter. 2016. “All animals are equal”. In Bioethics. An Anthology, edited by Helga Kuhse, Udo Schüklenk, and Peter Singer, 530-534, London: Wiley-Blackwell Publishers.

Sloterdijk, Peter. 2009. “Rules for the Human Zoo: a response to the Letter on Humanism”. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 27: 12-28.

Zerzan, John. 2005. Against Civilization: Readings and Reflections. Port Townsend (Washington): Feral House.

How to Cite
Llano, Fernando H. 2019. “Transhumanism, Vulnerability and Human Dignity”. Deusto Journal of Human Rights, no. 4 (December), 39-58.