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Palgrave Macmillan

The Proactionary Imperative

A Foundation for Transhumanism

ISBN 9781137302977
Publication Date July 2014
Formats Hardcover Paperback Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

The 'proactionary principle' was introduced by transhumanists. Whereas precautionaries believe that we are on the brink on environmental catastrophe because we're too willing to take risks, proactionaries believe that humans stand apart from the rest of nature by our capacity for successful risk taking. In terms of current environmental problems, therefore, solutions lie not in turning our backs on our love affair with technology but by intensifying it – through finding new energy sources or even looking at the possibility of inhabiting other worlds.

In this fascinating new book, Steve Fuller and Veronika Lipinska explore attitudes towards the transformation of human nature. They point out that, politically, both those on the right and the left contribute to different sides of the precautionary-proactionary debate, and argue that it will be this distinction, between caution and action, that will come to dominate the political landscape and create new political divisions.

Drawing on perspectives from both theology and biology, and completing a trilogy of works exploring 'Humanity 2.0', Fuller and Lipinska ultimately endorse the proactionary position, which supports individuals taking risks – for example with new health treatments, as they try to expand their life chances. They accept that such a risk-taking culture may result in set-backs and failures, but argue that this simply requires a new conception of the welfare state. The results may be an incredibly diverse society that will challenge our notions of tolerance, creating a world where 'traditional' humans live side by side with those who have artificial organs or have received substantial genetic modification. Humans have yet to treat all 'normal' members of Homo sapiens with proper respect and dignity and the proactionary principle opens up new challenges to our conceptions of equality. The book ends with a Manifesto that draws together the arguments to present a challenging vision for the future.

Steve Fuller is Auguste Comte Professor of Social Epistemology at the University of Warwick, UK. Originally trained in history and philosophy of science, his research programme of 'social epistemology' now encompasses a quarterly journal (founded in 1987) and twenty books, including Humanity 2.0: What It Means to be Human Past, Present and Future. He is a member of the UK Academy of Social Sciences and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts.

Veronika Lipinska holds degrees in law and sociology from the Universities of Warwick, UK and Lund, Sweden. Her interests include European tax law, intellectual property law and cyberlaw. A member of the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective, she is co-editor with Steve Fuller of the Epistemology section of the forthcoming Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social Theory.

1. Precautionary and Proactionary as the 21st Century's Defining Ideological Polarity
2. Proactionary Theology: Discovering the Art of God-Playing
3. Proactionary Biology: Recovering the Science of Eugenics
4. A Legal Framework for the Proactionary Principle
The Proactionary Manifesto


'Deals with one of the most exciting topics of recent times, i.e. the challenges of transhumanism. Moving through this intellectually stimulating book will force readers to re-think fundamental questions like where as a biological species we come from and where we are going with the help of the great achievements of modern scientific-technological progress.' – Teorija in Praksa
"Fuller is the closest thing to a Foucault writing today in the English language." – Metascience
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