Edited by Michele Loi (Genome Function Unit)
|Summary||This section is on the hypothetical genetic modification of human individuals through genetic engineering and the actual modification of the gene pool through (eugenic or disgenic) genetic selection. The ethics of gene-therapy and genetic selection is especially complex. One issue is whether germ-line (inheritable) genetic modification is more problematic than somatic (non inheritable) gene-therapy, even when comparably safe. Another issue is whether society ought to permit eugenic or disgenic goals to be achieved by genetic selection in the context of advanced reproductive technologies; this relates to (A) what defines a genetic modification or selection as "eugenic" or "disgenic", for instance, is selecting for deafness an instance of "disgenic" selection? (B) Whether eugenic goals are impermissible, permissible or even mandatory, and (C) whether genetic tests are a reliable basis of the achievement of eugenic goals. Another topic of discussions relates to whether there are important moral differences between (I) avoiding the most serious diseases and disabilities, (II) boosting protection from normal harmful circumstances, such as pathogens or pollutants (III) promoting conditions within and above normal human health, that are positively desirable or comparatively advantageous.|
|Key works||Harris 1992 argues that it is mandatory to modify disabilities through gene-therapy, including many traits that are considered normal or non pathological. Savulescu 2001 argues that parents have a moral obligation to select the best children in the context of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) based on available genetic information. Agar 2008 endorses the liberal version of eugenics, since, unlike early twentieth century eugenics, it is compatible with a pluralism of different conceptions about human flourishing. Against such or similar views, Habermas 2003 defends a principled distinction between gene-therapy to cure disease and genetic manipulation allowing parents to select the traits of future children. The latter is seen as incompatible with egalitarian relationships between human beings and their freedom of choice. Taking an intermediate position, Buchanan et al 2000 defend a Rawlsian approach to genetic justice, inspired by Buchanan's idea of a genetic decent minimum (Buchanan 1995) and Daniels' normal functioning approach to health care (Daniels 1985). They hold that society has the duty, as a matter of justice, to use gene therapy to correct disease, subject to reasonable resource constrains. In addition to this, in a future society in which genetic enhancements are widespread, normal functioning may require enhanced human capacities. They also attempts to reject the "social model of disability", in an extreme form, while recognising that the classification of X as a disability is, today and in a genetically modified future, society-relative (Silvers 2001).|
|Introductions||Brock 2003 Chadwick 2011 Glover 2008|
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David Bourget (Western Ontario)
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