Democratic transhumanism

Democratic transhumanism, a term coined by James Hughes in 2002, refers to the stance of transhumanists (advocates for the development and use of human enhancement technologies) who espouse liberal, social, and/or radical democratic political views.[1][2][3][4]


According to Hughes, the ideology "stems from the assertion that human beings will generally be happier when they take rational control of the natural and social forces that control their lives."[2][5] The ethical foundation of democratic transhumanism rests upon rule utilitarianism and non-anthropocentric personhood theory.[6] Democratic transhumanist support equal access to human enhancement technologies in order to promote social equality and to prevent technologies from furthering the divide among the socioeconomic classes.[7] While raising objections both to right-wing and left-wing bioconservatism, and libertarian transhumanism, Hughes aims to encourage democratic transhumanists and their potential progressive allies to unite as a new social movement and influence biopolitical public policy.[2][4]

An attempt to expand the middle ground between technorealism and techno-utopianism, democratic transhumanism can be seen as a radical form of techno-progressivism.[8] Appearing several times in Hughes' work, the term "radical" (from Latin rādīx, rādīc-, root) is used as an adjective meaning of or pertaining to the root or going to the root. His central thesis is that emerging technologies and radical democracy can help citizens overcome some of the root causes of inequalities of power.[2]

According to Hughes, the terms techno-progressivism and democratic transhumanism both refer to the same set of Enlightenment values and principles; however, the term technoprogressive has replaced the use of the word democratic transhumanism.[9][10]


Hughes has identified 15 "left futurist" or "left techno-utopian" trends and projects that could be incorporated into democratic transhumanism:

List of democratic transhumanists

These are notable individuals who have identified themselves, or have been identified by Hughes, as advocates of democratic transhumanism:[11]


Science journalist Ronald Bailey wrote a review of Citizen Cyborg in his online column for Reason magazine in which he offered a critique of democratic transhumanism and a defense of libertarian transhumanism.[12][13]

Critical theorist Dale Carrico defended democratic transhumanism from Bailey's criticism.[14] However, he would later criticize democratic transhumanism himself on technoprogressive grounds.[15]


  1. Hughes, James (2001). "Politics of Transhumanism". Retrieved 2007-01-26.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Hughes, James (2002). "Democratic Transhumanism 2.0". Retrieved 2007-01-26.
  3. Hughes, James (2003). "Better Health through Democratic Transhumanism". Retrieved 2007-01-26.
  4. 1 2 Hughes, James (2004). Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-4198-1.
  5. James Hughes (20 July 2005). "On Democratic Transhumanism". The Journal of Geoethical Nanotechnology. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  6. Hughes, James (1996). "Embracing Change with All Four Arms: A Post-Humanist Defense of Genetic Engineering". Retrieved 2007-01-26.
  7. Ferrando, Francesca (2013). "Posthumanism, Transhumanism, Antihumanism, Metahumanism, and New Materialisms Differences and Relations". Existenz. 8 (2, Fall 2013 ISSN 1932-1066). Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  8. Carrico, Dale (2005). "Listen, Transhumanist!". Retrieved 2007-01-27.
  9. George Dvorsky (31 March 2012). "J. Hughes on democratic transhumanism, personhood, and AI". Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  10. James Hughes and Marc Roux (24 June 2009). "On Democratic Transhumanism". Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. Retrieved 13 January 2015.
  11. "Cyborg Democracy".
  12. Bailey, Ronald (2005). "Trans-Human Expressway: Why libertarians will win the future". Retrieved 2006-02-05.
  13. Bailey, Ronald (2009). "Transhumanism and the Limits of Democracy". Retrieved 2009-05-01.
  14. Carrico, Dale (2005). "Bailey on the CybDemite Menace". Retrieved 2006-02-05.
  15. Carrico, Dale (2009). "James Hughes Flogs for the Robot Cult". Retrieved 2010-03-27.

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