PAPERS Resources

AAR Annual Meeting
Denver, CO
November 17-20, 2018

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Human Enhancement and Transhumanism Unit

Statement of Purpose: 

“Transhumanism” or “human enhancement” refers to an intellectual and cultural movement that advocates the use of a variety of emerging technologies. The convergence of these technologies may make it possible to take control of human evolution, providing for "desirable" physical, moral, affective, and cognitive enhancements and the amelioration of aspects of the human condition regarded as undesirable. These enhancements include the radical extension of healthy human life. If these enhancements become widely available, it would arguably have a more radical impact than any other development in human history — one need only reflect briefly on the economic, political, and social implications of some of the extreme enhancement possibilities. The implications for religion and the religious dimensions of human enhancement technologies are enormous and are addressed in our Unit. We are interested in encouraging and providing a forum for a broad array of diverse scholarly input. To be placed on a very occasional mailing list, contact Calvin Mercer, East Carolina University,

Call for Papers: 

We invite papers on the following topics:

• Enhancement Technology: How Can Religion Scholars Help Prepare the Public?
This Unit welcomes papers on any aspect of the relationship between religion and human enhancement through technology or on transhumanism. We seek perspectives from a variety of religious traditions and encourage relational, feminist, queer, postmodern, and postcolonial analyses. Original research is a priority. Papers may identify and critically evaluate any implicit religious beliefs, practices, and values that might underlie the development and use of human enhancement technologies or the key claims, goals, values, and assumptions of transhumanism. For example, papers might explore the relationship between enhancement and core doctrines or practices of religious traditions, asking how religion might challenge a culture of enhancement or how the growing use of enhancement technology might challenge or reshape the religions of the future. Papers may provide critical and constructive assessments of an envisioned future that places confidence in nanotechnology, cognitive science, moral bioenhancements, genetics, robotics, and information technology to achieve enhanced human capacities or extend the human lifespan.

• Religious Studies in Public: The Civic Responsibilities, Opportunities, and Risks Facing Scholars of Religion
In view of the 2018 AAR theme, we are particularly interested in papers that consider the public role of religion scholars in response to the expanding role of human enhancement technologies. We welcome examinations of what it means to be human and responsible in deliberations about enhancement usage.

Proposer names are visible to chairs but anonymous to steering committee members
ChairSteering Committee