Catholicism, the Human Form, and Genetic Engineering

Abstract
In September of 2008, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published Dignitas Personae, which addresses several newly emerging topics in thearea of biomedical ethics. One of these topics is genetic engineering, which we can define as the intentional manipulation of genetic material so as to produce some desired trait or characteristic. Genetic engineering is discussed in Dignitas Personae, but is done so relatively briefly. In this paper, I explore some of the metaphysical and ethical questions that are key in assessing the morality of this practice by examining other Church documents as well as philosophical literature. Ultimately, I will argue that aside from some instrumental restrictions, questions about the moral permissibility of genetic engineering, the distinction between therapy and enhancement, and what it means to be human are not as easily answered from a Catholic perspective as one might think
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