David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Germ-line genetic engineering procedures may influence the lives of untold millions of people far into the future. These techniques change the genetic material that is passed on to offspring and thus have the potential to change the human race as we know it. Because the effects are so enduring, this powerful technique must be used with caution. We must decide how to ethically evaluate potential changes to the germ-line consistently and effectively so that future generations are not harmed. I will show that a concept of traits that any rational person would find desirable in themselves and others (whatever the situation), known as primary goods, is necessary to justify germ-line genetic enhance-ments. Without primary goods, a genetic engineer is in no position to determine which traits should or should not be passed on to future generations. One must then create a list of universally acceptable primary goods and convincing evidence that germ-line genetic pro-cedures will augment them. I will show that the strongest conception of primary goods not only fails to support germ-line enhancements, but provides a compelling argument against it. Primary goods are difficult to enumerate given the variety of unexpected situations a person may encounter in life. However, those making decisions as to which characteristics are transmitted to progeny would have to comparatively evaluate the desirability of different traits. These decisions must be made based on primary goods. Rawls’ list of natural primary goods includes health, intelligence, and self-respect. While listing primary goods is controversial, those who have tried have always mentioned self-respect, which, as I will explain, is prerequisite to enjoying any other goods in life and is the most important primary good for Rawls. I argue that germ-line enhancements, far from promoting primary goods, will threaten them. I begin by making three assumptions about issues central to the discussion of germ-line enhancements. 1) I assume that germ-line genetic engineering will be capable of enhancing human traits. 2) I assume that the definitions of traits such as intelligence can be taken at face value. 3) I finally assume that germ-line enhancements will be distributed justly without prompting a treatment of distributive justice. For the purposes of this discussion I will assume an optimistic view of the potential of genetic engineering to enhance human traits. Only time will tell what is possible through genetic engineering, but at present it is useful to discuss the subject as if it will be nearly omnipotent, since that is the circumstance that grants the most com-pelling arguments in favor of germ-line enhancement
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library||
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Fritz Allhoff (2005). Germ-Line Genetic Enhancement and Rawlsian Primary Goods. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 15 (1):39-56.
Marc Lappé (1991). Ethical Issues in Manipulating the Human Germ Line. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 16 (6):621-639.
Kathleen Nolan (1991). Commentary: How Do We Think About the Ethics of Human Germ-Line Genetic Therapy? Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 16 (6):613-619.
Ray Moseley (1991). Commentary: Maintaining the Somatic/Germ-Line Distinction: Some Ethical Drawbacks. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 16 (6):641-647.
Colin Patrick Farrelly (2005). Justice in the Genetically Transformed Society. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 15 (1):91-99.
Michele Loi (2012). Germ-Line Enhancements and Rough Equality. Ethical Perspectives 19 (1):55-82.
Burke K. Zimmerman (1991). Human Germ-Line Therapy: The Case for its Development and Use. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 16 (6):593-612.
Martin Gunderson (2006). Human Rights, Dignity, and the Science of Genetic Engineering. Social Philosophy Today 22:43-57.
J. Robert Loftis (2005). Germ-Line Enhancement of Humans and Nonhumans. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 15 (1):57-76.
David Resnik (1994). Debunking the Slippery Slope Argument Against Human Germ-Line Gene Therapy. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 19 (1):23-40.
Martin Gunderson (2007). Seeking Perfection: A Kantian Look at Human Genetic Engineering. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 28 (2):87-102.
Jean-Marie Thévoz (1991). Germ-Line Engineering: A Few European Voices. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 16 (6):649-666.
Dov Fox (2007). Luck, Genes, and Equality. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 35 (4):712-726.
Added to index2010-09-09
Total downloads7 ( #195,080 of 1,102,059 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #306,606 of 1,102,059 )
How can I increase my downloads?