Binocularity in Bioethics—and Beyond: A Review of Erik Parens, Shaping Our Selves: On Technology, Flourishing, and a Habit of Thinking
Earp, Brian D.
The American Journal of Bioethics
Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Reason for embargo
Parens (2015) defends a habit of thinking he calls “binocularity,” which involves switching between analytical lenses (much as one must switch between seeing the duck vs. the rabbit in Wittgenstein’s famous example). Applying this habit of thought to a range of debates in contemporary bioethics, Parens urges us to acknowledge the ways in which our personal intuitions and biases shape our thinking about contentious moral issues. In this review of Parens’s latest book, we reflect on our own position as participants in the so-called “enhancement” debates, where a binocular approach could be especially useful. In particular, we consider the case of “love drugs,” a subject on which we have sometimes reached very different conclusions. We finish with an analogy to William James’s (1907) distinction between “tender-minded” rationalists and “tough-minded” empiricists, and draw some general lessons for improving academic discourse.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Taylor & Francis via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 16 (2), pp. W3-W6