Pedersen Publishes on Agency and Posthumanism

Posted on 12/3/2015 9:17:55 AM

Hans Pedersen, Department of Philosophy, published a paper titled “Heidegger and Korsgaard on Death and Freedom: the Implications for Posthumanism” in Human Studies, the official journal of the Society for Phenomenology and the Human Sciences.


Prominent advocates of posthumanism such as Nick Bostrom and Ray Kurzweil make the case that a drastic increase in the human lifespan (or healthspan) would be intrinsically good. This question of the value of an extended lifespan has perhaps become more pressing as medical and scientific advances are seemingly bringing us closer and closer to being able to extend our lives in the way posthumanists envision. In this paper I intend to use Martin Heidegger’s work on death and freedom to develop a potential objection to the claim that an indefinite healthspan is intrinsically desirable. The basic plan will be to make the case that the structure of human agency is such that truly free action is possible only on the basis of the essential finitude of our existence. Assuming that we take this sort freedom to be an important good, we would lose something of crucial importance if we were to radically extend the human healthspan. I am not claiming to present an entirely conclusive argument against posthumanism, or even enhancing the human healthspan to posthuman proportions, but rather, I see my argument here as adding another currently valued dimension of human existence that could very well be lost if we move decisively in the posthumanist direction.

Department of Philosophy