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The Price of Perfection


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In this book, Professor Mehlman shows precisely why those who oppose most forms of enhancement and optimization are at best confused. American culture constantly sells us the myth of the meritocracy-you deserve what you have because you earned it. The moral foundation of our economic system depends on the persuasiveness of this myth. Drugs that improve performance or level the competitive playing field threaten this core cultural belief. It is, as Mehlman elegantly argues, not so much that bioengineering perfection threatens to undermine fairness but rather that our mythic and fragile view of fairness is so threatened by the latest technologies of improvement. Anyone fascinated by the emerging battle over the morality of perfecting mankind ought to read this book. -- Arthur Caplan, University of Pennsylvania We humans will never be 'perfect,' but Max Mehlman persuasively explains why Americans will nonetheless continue to try whatever we think might make us 'better' and keep us on the road to perfection. -- George J. Annas, author of American Bioethics In The Price of Perfection, Max Mehlman makes it clear that biogenetic enhancement is the human destiny. He provides an insightful tour of not only the pitfalls but also, more important, the tremendous benefits that biomedical enhancement offers humanity. -- Ronald Bailey, author of Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution

Table of Contents

1. The Technological Horizon
2. Self-Satisfaction
3. Social Reward
4. The Hegemony of Meritocracy
5. Access to Enhancements and the Challenge to Equality
6. Lack of Choice
7. Enhancements in Sports
8. The Lessons from Sports
9. The War on Enhancements
10. Promoting Safety, Efficacy, and Informed Decisionmaking
11. Protecting the Vulnerable
12. Access and Inequality
13. Abominations
14. Research on Enhancement

About the Author

Maxwell J. Mehlman is the Petersilge Professor of Law and director of the Law-Medicine Center in the School of Law, Case Western Reserve University, where he is also a professor of bioethics in the School of Medicine and the associate director for public policy in the Center for Genetics Research, Ethics, and Law. He is the author, coauthor, or coeditor of several books on medical ethics and genetics, including Wondergenes; The Encyclopedia of Ethical, Legal, and Policy Issues in Biotechnology; and Access to the Genome.


In his highly readable and especially timely new book, The Price of Perfection, Mehlman makes it clear that he is not at all persuaded that the ethical response to the availability of performance-enhancing drugs in sports-or elsewhere in society, for that matter-is to ban them and then spend a lot of effort testing for those who use them anyway. -- Arthur Caplan Perspectives in Biology and Medicine Bioethicists, as well as policy makers and the public, must think more often and more deeply about science's rapidly growing ability to improve human functioning. But what is present in The Price of Perfection, and sufficiently inspiring, is a well-balanced and well-documented look at how we now are positioned (at least in the United States) to control this process, and what some of the pros and cons of enlarging control, or alternatively loosening it, might be. -- Anita Silvers International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics

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