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OVERCOMING LIMITATIONS: THE RHETORICAL IMPACT OF SCIENCE FICTION ON THE TRANSHUMANISM DEBATE

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abstract
Advancements in biotechnology have led to the development of the transhumanist ideology, the belief that humankind should harness the power of emerging technologies in genetics, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology to enhance human existence past its current physiological and mental capabilities. Proponents of transhumanism face considerable opposition from those who believe humanity must avoid the temptation of radical biotechnology. From the rhetoric disseminated by both groups a problematic debate emerges, one marked by strident dogmatism and intractability from each side. This thesis examines the rhetoric of the transhumanism debate and argues that a new approach to deliberation is necessary. I contend that science fiction, specifically a trilogy by novelist Nancy Kress, offers rhetoric promoting dialogic, productive communication rather than the antagonistic monologue of the current debate. In analyzing the various rhetorical strategies used by Kress and how they operate rhetorically within the texts, I suggest that the "other-focused" ethical paradigm espoused throughout the trilogy is an appropriate template to transcribe onto the transhumanism debate. I conclude with thoughts on how Kress' ideology can disrupt current obstinate rhetoric from pro- and anti-transhumanists and what the transhumanism debate may look like once a more dialogic approach to deliberation is adopted.
subject
Bioethics
Dialogue
Genetic engineering
Public Moral Argument
Science fiction
Transhumanism
contributor
Fletcher, Samuel White (author)
Hyde, Michael J. (committee chair)
Beasley Von Burg, Alessandra (committee member)
King, Nancy M.P. (committee member)
date
2012-06-12T08:35:41Z (accessioned)
2012-06-12T08:35:41Z (available)
2012 (issued)
degree
Communication (discipline)
identifier
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/37249 (uri)
language
en (iso)
publisher
Wake Forest University
title
OVERCOMING LIMITATIONS: THE RHETORICAL IMPACT OF SCIENCE FICTION ON THE TRANSHUMANISM DEBATE
type
Thesis

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