Finetuning our cognitive, emotional and moral settings for different life situations

Photo by Chris Leipelt on Unsplash

What I imagine is a virtues control panel with sliders that determine the balance of moral impulses, cognition and behavior in different situations, governed by a morality operating system. When we are working on tasks that require focus and care we would turn up concentration, conscientiousness and prefrontal control. When we are brainstorming or writing poetry or at a party we would turn those down, and turn up creativity, spontaneity and openness to novelty. …

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

James J. Hughes

Originally published in Eubios Journal of Asian and International Bioethics June 1996, 6(4):94–101

I wrote this in 1994 while I was working at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago, and finishing my doctorate. I had been talking with the Extropians on their email list, and beginning to see some convergence between my critiques of Luddism in ecological politics, and the parallel arguments in bioethics. This essay was the beginning of the next 25 years of trying to articulate a technoprogressive position.


Nine years ago Jeremy Rifkin convinced me that genetic technology…

A Leftist guide for the coming catastrophes.

Abstract: Socialists have historically thought a lot about the catastrophic risks society faces. Today many DSA chapters have gotten involved in mutual aid to respond to the Covid crisis, generating a debate about how mutual aid fits into socialist work. One form of community engagement that is likely to be increasingly necessary, and is an opportunity for radicalizing angry neighbors, is disaster preparedness. While the prepper subculture is perceived as right-wing, and parts are tied into the militia movement, there are also opportunities for progressive organizations to work with FEMA and local governments. …

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

Back in 1983, while I was working in Sri Lanka, the German Greens were first elected to the Bundestag. As a post-Marxist social theorist, interested in ecological thinking, and someone looking for a way to connect spirituality, new social movements and the traditional Left, I began following Green politics closely. When I got to graduate school the US Green Party had organized, and I started the short-lived EcoSocialist Review (1988–1994) to discuss the overlaps and tensions between Green and social justice politics, around themes like environmental racism and how to build labor support for climate policies. …

As a teenage Buddhist socialist I wrote essays about how I planned to work on enlightenment while trying to change the world. The connection between moral enhancement and political change has been on my mind every since. Once I started writing about the ways we can implement moral enhancement in liberal democratic societies, however, I began thinking about the fact that all societies, including liberal ones, have moral parameters, and use forms of moral enhancement to encourage compliance. …

Photo by ActionVance on Unsplash

Published by Schweizer Monat January 2021

More than 100 years ago, humanity developed vaccinations for typhus, cholera and plague. Back then, these Infectious diseases were the principal cause of mortality, and they were especially deadly for children. There was no anti-vaxxer movement until recently, when those threats had been forgotten.

The anti-vaccination subculture is correct about one thing: vaccines are an unnatural enhancement of the human immune system. In the decades to come, medicine will offer up many more new forms of human enhancement. Just as we today debate how we ensure that vaccines are safe and effective, and…

Attitudes towards science and technology are closely aligning with Culture War attitudes towards secularism, sexuality, gender, civil liberties, race and nationalism

Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash

In Citizen Cyborg I argued that the political landscape around technopolitics would soon reflect the complicated intellectual landscape of Bush-era bioethics. In the 2000s there were right-wingers and left-wingers who were (and still are) on both the pro and anti sides of myriad technology debates. I argued then that while 20th century politics in the West had been shaped by the struggle for the Enlightenment in the cultural sphere, and by struggles between different Enlightenment values in economics, these two axes would soon be joined by a third technopolitical axis. …

James J. Hughes PhD

James J. Hughes is Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and a research fellow at UMass Boston’s Center for Applied Ethics.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store