Nicholas Agar

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Nicholas Agar (born 1965) is a professor of ethics at the Victoria University of Wellington.[1] Agar has a BA from the University of Auckland, an MA from the Victoria University of Wellington, and a PhD from the Australian National University. He has been teaching at Victoria since 1996. Agar's main research interests are in the ethics of the new genetics. He has also published on personhood theory, environmental ethics, and the philosophy of mind.

Ethically, Agar is described as occupying a position between bioconservatives like Leon Kass and transhumanists. Transhumanists argue that biotechnology should be used to overcome our human limitations so we may all become "better than well". Agar supports reproductive freedom - the right of prospective parents to pursue enhancement technologies for their future children but without forcing them to embrace it.[2] However, in his later work Humanity's End he states that "radical enhancement" should be rejected. Humanity's End was a 2011 Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Title.

Agar is a member of the New Zealand Government's Environmental Risk Management Authority Ethics Advisory Council.[3] He was appointed in April 2008.

Selected publications[edit]


  • The Sceptical Optimist: Why technology isn't the answer to everything (OUP, Oxford, 2015)
  • Truly Human Enhancement: A Philosophical Defense of Limits (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA:, 2013)
  • Humanity’s End: Why We Should Reject Radical Enhancement (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA:, 2010)
  • Liberal Eugenics: In Defence of Human Enhancement (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004)
  • Perfect Copy (Cambridge: Icon, 2002)
  • Life’s Intrinsic Value (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001)


  • What Do Frogs Really Believe? Australasian Journal of Philosophy (1993) 71 (1):1-12.
  • Philosophical Naturalism. Mind and Language (1995) 10 (1-2):194-197.
  • Designing Babies: Morally Permissible Ways to Modify the Human Genome Bioethics (1995) 9 (1):1–15.
  • Teleology and Genes Biology and Philosophy (1996) 11 (3)
  • Biocentrism and the Concept of Life Ethics (1997) 108 (1):147-168
  • Functionalism and Personal Identity Nous 37(2003): 52-70
  • Cloning and Identity Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 28 (2003): 9-26.
  • Embryonic Potential and Stem Cells Bioethics, Vol. 21, No. 4, pp. 198–207, May 2007
  • Thoughts about our species’ future: themes from Humanity’s End: Why We Should Reject Radical Enhancement. Journal of Evolution and Technology, Vol 21 Issue 2, November 2010, pp 23–31

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Collins, Simon (14 November 2002). "Cloning raises morality questions". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 30 October 2011.
  2. ^
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