The Chain of Human Rights to Morphological Freedom

The right to life, the right to not have other people prevent oneself from surviving, is a central right, without which all other rights have no meaning. But to realize the right to life we need other rights.

Another central right for any humanistic view of human rights is the right to seek happiness. Without it human flourishing is unprotected, and there is not much point in having a freedom to live if it will not be at least a potentially happy life. In a way the right to life follows from it, since death or the threat of it is one of the main threats to the pursuit of happiness.

From the right to seek happiness and the right to life the right of freedom can be derived. If we seek to survive, we must be able to act freely in our own interest. Similarly, since we are different and have different conceptions of happiness (which is after all a deeply personal thing that cannot be separated from the person pursuing happiness) we need freedom to practice these. Also, since values differ and uncertainties in knowledge and intelligence make people come to opposing conclusions about the best way of acting even when their goals are exactly the same, there is a need for freedom to enable different approaches to be tested, compared, and pursued.

The right to freedom and life imply a right to one’s body. If we have a right to live and be free, but our bodies are not free, then the other rights become irrelevant. If my body is coerced or threatened, I have no choice to obey whatever demands the coercer makes on me if I wish to continue to survive. Even worse, changes to my body can be used to affect my pursuit of happiness.

Similarly, a right to ownership can be derived in the same way. We are technological beings who cannot survive without the tools and resources we employ, and if we are denied them we cannot thrive.

From the right to freedom and the right to one’s own body follows that one has a right to modify one’s body. If my pursuit of happiness requires a bodily change – be it dying my hair or changing my sex – then my right to freedom requires a right to morphological freedom. My physical welfare may require me to affect my body using antibiotics or surgery. On a deeper level, our thinking is not separate from our bodies. Our freedom of thought implies a freedom of brain activity. If changes of brain structure (as they become available) are prevented, they prevent us from achieving mental states we might otherwise have been able to achieve. There is no dividing line between the body and out mentality, both are part of ourselves. Morphological freedom is the right to modify oneself.


From Anders Sandberg's "Morphological Freedom – Why We Not Just Want It, but Need It"

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Human rights (0.960191): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc | yago
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (0.691470): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
Happiness (0.471026): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Eudaimonia (0.456625): dbpedia | freebase
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Body (0.391492): dbpedia | freebase
Law (0.368759): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Transhumanism (0.361542): dbpedia | freebase | yago

 The Transhumanist Reader
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  More, Max and Vita-More, Natasha (2013-03-05), The Transhumanist Reader, John Wiley & Sons, Retrieved on 2015-03-19
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  • Folksonomies: medical transhumanism