Retracing liberalism and remaking nature: Designer children, research embryos, and featherless chickens

Bioethics 24 (4):170-178 (2010)
Abstract
Liberal theory seeks to achieve the moral and practical goods of toleration, civil peace, and mutual respect within modern pluralistic societies by excluding from public debate those arguments that arise from within formative conceptions about what gives value to human life. I ask whether it is reasonable to bracket, for purposes of public deliberation, our deepest moral views about genetic engineering. The answer to this question depends, at least in part, on how we come down on those moral issues that such biotechnological practices presupposes. I argue that the moral language of liberal justice - of rights and duties, interests and opportunities, freedom and consent, equality and fairness - cannot speak to the moral concerns at the heart of such practices. My goal is not to indict liberalism as a valuable framework in many areas of theory and practice. I mean, instead, to challenge the suitability of liberalism to furnish a plausible and coherent account of the moral status for a range of biotechnological practices.
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