Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Robert Baker




rights, human, nature, fukuyama, natural


This thesis is an in-depth examination of Francis Fukuyama’s Our Posthuman Future. Fukuyama argues that our current system of positive rights (rights decided by consensus) is unsatisfactory; we ought instead to follow a system of natural rights (rights determined by our human nature). A major advantage of natural rights is that it defines human dignity, a quality universally respected but of nebulous definition. Fukuyama argues that since rights are based in human nature, any technology that may alter human nature may alter natural rights and human dignity. This is a bad state of affairs. Biotechnology has the potential to alter human nature. Therefore, he concludes, we ought not to pursue biotechnology that alters human nature. This thesis critically analyzes his position. It accepts, for the sake of argument, that Fukuyama is correct that we ought to utilize a system of natural rights. It concludes that Fukuyama is correct to urge caution with nature-altering biotechnology, but that he is incorrect to recommend banning it. His argument is therefore invalid.