David Pearce (philosopher)
|Residence||Brighton and Hove, United Kingdom|
|Alma mater||Brasenose College, Oxford|
David Pearce is a British independent philosopher. He believes and promotes the idea that there exists a strong ethical imperative for humans to work towards the abolition of suffering in all sentient life. His book-length internet manifesto The Hedonistic Imperative outlines how technologies such as genetic engineering, nanotechnology, pharmacology, and neurosurgery could potentially converge to eliminate all forms of unpleasant experience among human and non-human animals, replacing suffering with gradients of well-being, a project he refers to as "paradise engineering". A transhumanist and a vegan, Pearce believes that we (or our future posthuman descendants) have a responsibility not only to avoid cruelty to animals within human society but also to redesign the global ecosystem so that animals do not suffer in the wild.
Pearce co-founded Humanity+, then known as the World Transhumanist Association, and is a prominent figure in the transhumanism movement, inspiring a strain of transhumanism based on paradise engineering and ending suffering.
The Hedonistic Imperative
|I predict we will abolish suffering throughout the living world. Our descendants will be animated by gradients of genetically pre-programmed well-being that are orders of magnitude richer than today's peak experiences.|
|— David Pearce, The Hedonistic Imperative|
Pearce is primarily known as the author of The Hedonistic Imperative, a 1995 book-length manifesto in which he theorizes how to "eradicate suffering in all sentient life" through paradise engineering. In Pearce's view, suffering is not necessary for humans and only exists because humanity evolved through methods that emphasized survival, rather than happiness. He writes that mental suffering will someday be seen as a relic of the past, just as physical suffering during surgery was effectively eliminated with the advent of anesthesia.
In his work, Pearce outlines how drugs and technologies, including genetic engineering and nanotechnology, could enable the end of suffering in all sentient life. In the short term, Pearce argues, well-being can be helped by designer drugs, especially since safer mood-brighteners are becoming more readily available. In the long-term, however, suffering could be abolished by genetic engineering through biotechnology.
In 1998, Pearce co-founded Humanity+, the international transhumanism association, with fellow philosopher Nick Bostrom, now the director of the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University. The association, then known as the World Transhumanist Association (WTA), is a nonprofit organization that advocates transhumanism — an international cultural and intellectual movement with an eventual goal of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.
Pearce's ideas have inspired a strain of transhumanism based on paradise engineering. Pearce is vegan, and the increasing number of vegans and vegetarians in the transhumanism movement has been attributed to his influence.
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Pearce runs a web-hosting company and owns BLTC Research, a series of websites based in Kemptown, Brighton, UK, originally set up by Pearce in 1995 when he published The Hedonistic Imperative. According to the BLTC Research mission statement, the organization publishes online texts in support of paradise engineering and abolishing sentient suffering for future generations.
Essays and articles on the BLTC network of websites feature information on many areas of science, including pharmacology, biopsychiatry and quantum mechanics. The websites promote the end of suffering and "high-tech anti-ageing," among other topics, and have been cited in books written on a variety of subjects, ranging from addiction to aging. The BLTC websites also feature biographies and information about people throughout history, including European physician Arnaldus de Villa Nova, Chilean psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo and Brave New World author Aldous Huxley, which have also been published as sources on these individuals in a variety of books by authors including Dava Sobel.
Affiliations and appearances
Pearce is co-editor of Singularity Hypotheses (Springer, 2012), holds a position on the advisory board of the Lifeboat Foundation, is a fellow with the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and was, until 2012, a member of the editorial review board of Medical Hypotheses.
He has been a speaker at many conferences, including the Singularity Summit, and given talks at the University of Oxford, Lund University and Harvard University. His work has been covered by Vanity Fair, The Economist, H+ Magazine, BBC Radio, and The Daily Telegraph.
"The Hedonistic Imperative outlines how genetic engineering and nanotechnology will abolish suffering in all sentient life. This project is ambitious but technically feasible. It is also instrumentally rational and ethically mandatory. The metabolic pathways of pain and malaise evolved only because they once served the fitness of our genes. They will be replaced by a different sort of neural architecture. States of sublime well-being are destined to become the genetically pre-programmed norm of mental health. The world's last aversive experience will be a precisely dateable event."
- Vlahos, James (2005-07-31). "Will Drugs Make Us Smarter and Happier?". Popular Science. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
- Bostrom, Nick (2005). A History of Transhumanist Thought (PDF) 14 (1). Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.
- "The Hedonistic Imperative".
- "The Genomic Bodhisattva". H+ Magazine. 2009-09-16. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
- "Criação animal intensiva. Um outro Holocausto?". Revista do Instituto Humanitas Unisinos. 2011.
- Holford, Patrick (2012). The 10 Secrets Of Healthy Ageing: How to Live Longer, Look Younger and Feel Great. Hachette Digital. ISBN 0748130780.
- Meijers, Anthonie W.M. (2009). Philosophy of Technology and Engineering Sciences. Elsevier. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
- Humanity+ Transhumanist FAQ
- "David Pearce takes the meat out of meatspace". The New Atlantis. 2010-06-17. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
- [p.114 Ethics Matters by Peter and Charlotte Vardy - SCM Press, 2012]
- "The Future and You: August 27, 2008 Episode".
- Colson, Charles W. (2004). Human Dignity in the Biotech Century: A Christian Vision for Public Policy. InterVarsity. p. 167. ISBN 0830827838.
- "The End of Suffering". Philosophy Now Magazine. 2006. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
- Lifeboat Foundation Bios: David Pearce
- Humanity+ Transhumanism Resources
- "Humanity+ FAQ #45".
- Bostrom, Nick (2005). "A history of transhumanist thought" (PDF). Journal of Evolution and Technology. Retrieved 2014-02-02.
- Fairlie, Simon (2010). Meat: A Benign Extravagance. Chelsea Green Publishing. pp. 230–1. ISBN 1603583254.
- "BLTC Research Mission Statement".
- "Paradise Engineering : The BLTC Library".
- DeMars, William Emile (2005). NGOs and Transnational Networks: Wild Cards in World Politics. Pluto Press. pp. 188, 222, 244. ISBN 074531905X.
- Cass, Hyla (2002). Natural Highs: Supplements, Nutrition, and Mind-body Techniques to Help You Feel Good All the Time. Penguin. p. 323. ISBN 1583331336.
- Seife, Charles (2007). Decoding the Universe: How the New Science of Information Is Explaining Everything in the Cosmos, From Our Brains to Black Holes. Penguin. ISBN 1101201274.
- Stanton, Maureen (2011). Killer Stuff and Tons of Money: An Insider's Look at the World of Flea Markets, Antiques, and Collecting. Penguin. p. Notes. ISBN 1101516054.
- Rasmussen, Nicolas (2008). On Speed: The Many Lives of Amphetamine. NYU Press. p. Chapter 8 Notes. ISBN 0814776272.
- Shanty, Frank (2011). The Nexus: International Terrorism and Drug Trafficking from Afghanistan. ABC-CLIO. p. 253. ISBN 0313385211.
- Bradley, James T. (2013). Brutes Or Angels: Human Possibility in the Age of Biotechnology. University of Alabama Press. p. 324. ISBN 0817317880.
- Sobel, Dava (2011). A More Perfect Heaven: How Copernicus Revolutionized the Cosmos. Bloomsbury. p. Notes on the Quotations. ISBN 0802778933.
- "Lifeboat Foundation's Futurist Board".
- "David Pearce Bio".
- "2013 Archive of Medical Hypotheses Advisory Board".
- "Mehr Rausch für alle". Vanity Fair. 2007-04-05. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
- "I get a kick out of you". The Economist. 2004-02-12. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
- "The pursuit of happiness". BBC Radio 4. 2013-08-07. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
- "Hangovers and the abolition of suffering". The Telegraph. 2013-11-15. Retrieved 2014-01-12.
- Philosophical "-Isms" - Philosophy Research Base - erraticimpact.com
- David Pearce's The Hedonistic Imperative
- Vanity Fair interview with Pearce
- Russian magazine interview with Pearce
- A World Without Suffering? An interview with David Pearce - by Marcia Rosane Junges
- NanoAging interviews Pearce
- Bostrom and Pearce interviewed by Cronopis
- The Genomic Bodhisattva (James Kent interviews David Pearce in Humanity+ magazine)
- Should we eliminate the human ability to feel pain?
- Video interview with David Pearce on the Hedonistic Imperative
- Video of David Pearce's talk on Prophetic Narratives at Humanity+ @San Francisco 2012