Beneficence, determinism and justice: An engagement with the argument for the genetic selection of intelligence

Bioethics 19 (1):12–28 (2005)
Abstract
ABSTRACTIn 2001, Julian Savulescu wrote an article entitled ‘Procreative Beneficence: Why We Should Select the Best Children’, in which he argued for the genetic selection of intelligence in children. That article contributes to a debate on whether genetic research on intelligence should be undertaken at all and, if so, should intelligence selection be available to potential parents. As such, the question of intelligence selection relates to wider issues concerning the genetic determination of behavioural traits, i.e. alcoholism. This article is designed as an engagement in the intelligence selection debate using an analysis of Savulescu's arguments to raise a series of problematic issues in relation to the ethics of parental selection of intelligence. These problematic issues relate to wider assumptions that are made in order to put forward intelligence selection as a viable ethical option. Such assumptions are more generic in character, but still relate to Savulescu's article, concerning issues of genetic determinism, private allocation and inequality, and, finally, individual versus aggregate justice. The conclusion focuses on what the implications are for the question of agency, especially if intelligence selection is allowed
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