About this topic
Summary This category is about the possibility of altering the characteristics of non human animals and plants through genetic engineering. Among those who believe that genetic engineering is wrong, some regard genetic engineering to be wrong per se and some focus on its consequences. If it is wrong per se, it might be because (1) it violates the rights of animals, (2) it fails to accord to animals the respect that is their due, (3) it is unnatural, i.e. it violates the "telos" of animals. 
Key works Rollin 1995 rejects genetic engineering based on consequentialist considerations. Rifkin 1985, Fox 1990, Fox 1992, and Dobson 1995 argue, from a biocentric perspective, that genetic engineering is wrong per se.
Introductions Burgess & Walsh 1998
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  1. Genetic Engineering of Food.Derek Burke - forthcoming - Christians and Bioethics.
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  2. A dark side of glowing fish? More oversight of genetic engineering needed.A. Caplan - forthcoming - Bioethics on Msnbc.
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  3. The Duty to Edit the Human Germline.Parker Crutchfield - forthcoming - Res Publica:1-19.
    Many people find the manipulation of the human germline—editing the DNA of sperm or egg cells such that these genetic changes are passed to the resulting offspring—to be morally impermissible. In this paper, I argue for the claim that editing the human germline is morally permissible. My argument starts with the claim that outcome uncertainty regarding the effects of germline editing shows that the duty to not harm cannot ground the prohibition of germline editing. Instead, if germline editing is wrong, (...)
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  4. Enhancement & Desert.Thomas Douglas - forthcoming - Politics, Philosophy and Economics.
    It is sometimes claimed that those who succeed with the aid of enhancement technologies deserve the rewards associated with their success less, other things being equal, than those who succeed without the aid of such technologies. This claim captures some widely held intuitions, has been implicitly endorsed by participants in social-psychological research, and helps to undergird some otherwise puzzling philosophical objections to the use of enhancement technologies. I consider whether it can be provided with a rational basis. I examine three (...)
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  5. Making Dialogue Work: Responsible Innovation and Gene Editing.Phil Macnaghten, Esha Shah & David Ludwig - forthcoming - In The Politics of Knowledge in Inclusive Development and Innovation.
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  6. Social, economical, environmental, ethical and political outcomes of biotechnology and genetic engineering.A. Yilmaz - forthcoming - Bioethics Congress.
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  7. The principle of procreative beneficence and its implications for genetic engineering.Luvuyo Gantsho - 2022 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 43 (5):307-328.
    Molecular genetic engineering technologies such as CRISPR/Cas9 have made the accurate and safe genetic engineering of human embryos possible. Further advances in genomics have isolated genes that predict qualities and traits associated with intelligence. Given these advances, prospective parents could use these biotechnologies to genetically engineer future children for genes that enhance their intelligence. While Julian Savulescu’s Principle of Procreative Beneficence (PPB) argues for the moral obligation of prospective parents to use in-vitro fertilization and preimplantation genetic diagnosis to make eugenic (...)
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  8. Creating Human Nature: The Political Challenges of Genetic Engineering.Benjamin Gregg - 2022 - Cambridge University Press.
    Human genetic enhancement, examined from the standpoint of the new field of political bioethics, displaces the age-old question of truth: What is human nature? This book displaces that question with another: What kind of human nature should humans want to create for themselves? To answer that question, this book answers two others: What constraints should limit the applications of rapidly developing biotechnologies? What could possibly form the basis for corresponding public policy in a democratic society? Benjamin Gregg focuses on the (...)
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  9. Dynamic Aspects of Human Genetics: Is the Human Germline the Bioethical Key to Human Genetic Engineering?Nicolae Morar - 2022 - American Journal of Bioethics 22 (9):46-49.
    The advent of CRISPR has drastically moved the possibility of genetically modifying human genomes from the space of science fiction into nearby reality. Whether one considers the positive results f...
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  10. Debating the “Unresolved Potential Dangers of Genetic Engineering”. Public Science, Strategies of Enactment and Performance of Science in the Context of the West German Debate of Genetic Engineering.Anna Maria Schmidt - 2022 - NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin 30 (4):501-527.
    In March 1986, a public symposium took place in Heidelberg about the “unresolved potential dangers of genetic engineering”. The event was organized by institutions affiliated with the environmental movement. Choosing this symposium as an example, the article shows how the public appearance of scientists can be understood as a form of political activism. The article shows how specialists from fields as diverse as biology, chemistry, physics, law and political sciences tried to place political messages by putting themselves in the limelight (...)
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  11. Designing Genetic Engineering Technologies For Human Values.Steven Umbrello - 2022 - Etica E Politica (2):481-510.
    Genetic engineering technologies are a subclass of the biotechnology family, and are concerned with the use of laboratory-based technologies to intervene with a given organism at the genetic level, i.e., the level of its DNA. This class of technologies could feasibly be used to treat diseases and disabilities, create disease-resistant crops, or even be used to enhance humans to make them more resistant to certain environmental conditions. However, both therapeutic and enhancement applications of genetic engineering raise serious ethical concerns. This (...)
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  12. Reasons to Genome Edit and Metaphysical Essentialism about Human Identity.Tomasz Żuradzki & Vilius Dranseika - 2022 - American Journal of Bioethics 22 (9):34-36.
    In this commentary paper, we are taking one step further in questioning the central assumptions in the bioethical debates about reproductive technologies. We argue that the very distinction between “person affecting” and “identity affecting” interventions is based on a questionable form of material-origin essentialism. Questioning of this form of essentialist approach to human identity allows treating genome editing and genetic selection as more similar than they are taken to be in the standard approaches. It would also challenge the idea that (...)
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  13. Ethischer Diskurs zu Epigenetik und Genomeditierung: die Gefahr eines (epi-)genetischen Determinismus und naturwissenschaftlich strittiger Grundannahmen.Karla Karoline Sonne Kalinka Alex & Eva C. Winkler - 2021 - In Boris Fehse, Ferdinand Hucho, Sina Bartfeld, Stephan Clemens, Tobias Erb, Heiner Fangerau, Jürgen Hampel, Martin Korte, Lilian Marx-Stölting, Stefan Mundlos, Angela Osterheider, Anja Pichl, Jens Reich, Hannah Schickl, Silke Schicktanz, Jochen Taupitz, Jörn Walter, Eva Winkler & Martin Zenke (eds.), Fünfter Gentechnologiebericht: Sachstand und Perspektiven für Forschung und Anwendung. Baden-Baden, Deutschland.: Nomos. DOI: 10.5771/9783748927242. pp. 299-323.
    Slightly modified excerpt from the section 13.4 Zusammenfassung und Ausblick (translated into englisch): This chapter is based on an analysis of ethical debates on epigenetics and genome editing, debates, in which ethical arguments relating to future generations and justice play a central role. The analysis aims to contextualize new developments in genetic engineering, such as genome and epigenome editing, ethically. At the beginning, the assumptions of "genetic determinism," on which "genetic essentialism" is based, of "epigenetic determinism" as well as "genetic" (...)
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  14. Affecting future individuals: Why and when germline genome editing entails a greater moral obligation towards progeny.Davide Battisti - 2021 - Bioethics:1-9.
    Assisted reproductive technologies have greatly increased our control over reproductive choices, leading some bioethicists to argue that we face unprecedented moral obligations towards progeny. Several models attempting to balance the principle of procreative autonomy with these obligations have been proposed. The least demanding is the minimal threshold model (MTM), according to which every reproductive choice is permissible, except creating children whose lives will not be worth living. Hence, as long as the future child is likely to have a life worth (...)
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  15. Wild Animal Ethics: The Moral and Political Problem of Wild Animal Suffering.Kyle Johannsen - 2021 - New York, NY, USA: Routledge.
    Though many ethicists have the intuition that we should leave nature alone, Kyle Johannsen argues that we have a duty to research safe ways of providing large-scale assistance to wild animals. Using concepts from moral and political philosophy to analyze the issue of wild animal suffering (WAS), Johannsen explores how a collective, institutional obligation to assist wild animals should be understood. He claims that with enough research, genetic editing may one day give us the power to safely intervene without perpetually (...)
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  16. Autonomy and the Limits of Cognitive Enhancement.Jonathan Lewis - 2021 - Bioethics 35 (1):15-22.
    In the debates regarding the ethics of human enhancement, proponents have found it difficult to refute the concern, voiced by certain bioconservatives, that cognitive enhancement violates the autonomy of the enhanced. However, G. Owen Schaefer, Guy Kahane and Julian Savulescu have attempted not only to avoid autonomy-based bioconservative objections, but to argue that cognition-enhancing biomedical interventions can actually enhance autonomy. In response, this paper has two aims: firstly, to explore the limits of their argument; secondly, and more importantly, to develop (...)
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  17. Rethinking the oversight conditions of human–animal chimera research.Monika Piotrowska - 2021 - Bioethics 35 (1):98-104.
    New discoveries are improving the odds of human cells surviving in host animals, prompting regulatory and funding agencies to issue calls for additional layers of ethical oversight for certain types of human–animal chimeras. Of interest are research proposals involving chimeric animals with humanized brains. But what is motivating the demand for additional oversight? I locate two, not obviously compatible, motivations, each of which provides the justificatory basis for paying special attention to different sets of human–animal chimeras. Surprisingly, the sets of (...)
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  18. Informed Consent: Foundations and Applications.Joanna Smolenski - 2021 - Dissertation, Cuny Graduate Center
    Since its advent in the 20th century, informed consent has become a cornerstone of ethical healthcare, and obtaining it a core obligation in medical contexts. In my dissertation, I aim to examine the theoretical underpinnings of informed consent and identify what values it is taken to protect. I will suggest that the fundamental motivation behind informed consent rests in something I’ll call bodily self-sovereignty, which I argue involves a coupling of two groups of values: autonomy and non-domination on the one (...)
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  19. Can ‘eugenics’ be defended?Walter Veit, J. Anomaly, N. Agar, P. Singer, D. Fleischman & F. Minerva - 2021 - Bioethics Review 39 (1):60–67.
    In recent years, bioethical discourse around the topic of ‘genetic enhancement’ has become increasingly politicized. We fear there is too much focus on the semantic question of whether we should call particular practices and emerging bio-technologies such as CRISPR ‘eugenics’, rather than the more important question of how we should view them from the perspective of ethics and policy. Here, we address the question of whether ‘eugenics’ can be defended and how proponents and critics of enhancement should engage with each (...)
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  20. Eugenics Offended.Robert A. Wilson - 2021 - Monash Bioethics Review 39 (2):169-176.
    This commentary continues an exchange on eugenics in Monash Bioethics Review between Anomaly (2018), Wilson (2019), and Veit, Anomaly, Agar, Singer, Fleischman, and Minerva (2021). The eponymous question, “Can ‘Eugenics’ be Defended?”, is multiply ambiguous and does not receive a clear answer from Veit et al.. Despite their stated desire to move beyond mere semantics to matters of substance, Veit et al. concentrate on several uses of the term “eugenics” that pull in opposite directions. I argue, first, that Veit et (...)
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  21. Against the Precautionary Approach to Moral Status: The Case of Surrogates for Living Human Brains.Tomasz Żuradzki - 2021 - American Journal of Bioethics 21 (1):53-56.
    My paper builds on the conceptual tools from three interrelated philosophical debates that—as I believe—may help structure important if chaotic discussions about surrogates for living human brains and resolve some practical issues related to regulatory matters. In particular, I refer to the discussions about the “moral precautionary principle” in research ethics (Koplin and Wilkinson 2019); about normative uncertainty in ethics (MacAskill, Bykvist, and Ord 2020), and about the inductive risk problem for animal welfare scientists (Birch 2018). I elucidate upon the (...)
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  22. The Future of Phage: Ethical challenges of using phage viruses to treat bacterial infections.Jonathan Anomaly - 2020 - Public Health Ethics 13.
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  23. Creating Future People: The Ethics of Genetic Enhancement.Jonathan Anomaly - 2020 - London, UK: Routledge.
    Creating Future People offers readers a fast-paced primer on how new genetic technologies will enable parents to influence the traits of their children, including their intelligence, moral capacities, physical appearance, and immune system. It deftly explains the science of gene editing and embryo selection, and raises the central moral questions with colorful language and a brisk style. Jonathan Anomaly takes seriously the diversity of preferences parents have, and the limits of public policy in regulating what could soon be a global (...)
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  24. Cognitive Enhancement and Network Effects: How Individual Prosperity Depends on Group Traits.Jonathan Anomaly & Garett Jones - 2020 - Philosophia 48:1753-1768.
    A central debate in bioethics is whether parents should try to influence the genetic basis of their children’s traits. We argue that the case for using mate selection, embryo selection, and other interventions to enhance heritable traits like intelligence is strengthened by the fact that they seem to have positive network effects. These network effects include increased cooperation in collective action problems, which contributes to social trust and prosperity. We begin with an overview of evidence for these claims, and then (...)
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  25. Great Minds Think Different: Preserving Cognitive Diversity in an Age of Gene Editing.Jonny Anomaly, Julian Savulescu & Christopher Gyngell - 2020 - Bioethics 34 (1):81-89.
  26. Navigating the future in a sea of crispr uncertainty.Constance M. Bertka - 2020 - Zygon 55 (2):444-458.
    Humanity's toolkit for altering the world we live in now includes CRISPR. Through an evolutionary process, bacteria acquired a way to protect themselves from an invading virus, making their immediate future more secure. In human hands, this powerful genome‐editing tool offers the potential to impact, at a breathtaking rate, not only our own evolutionary future, but the future of other life on this planet. Ethical concerns about altering genomes are not new, but the birth of two CRISPR gene‐edited babies last (...)
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  27. Improving the justice‐based argument for conducting human gene editing research to cure sickle cell disease.Berman Chan - 2020 - Bioethics 34 (2):200-202.
    In a recent article, Marilyn Baffoe-Bonnie offers three arguments for conducting CRISPR/Cas9 biotechnology research to cure sickle-cell disease (SCD) based on addressing historical and current injustices in SCD research and care. I show that her second and third arguments suffer from roughly the same defect, which is that they really argue for something else rather than for conducting CRISPR/Cas9 research in particular. For instance, the second argument argues that conducting this gene therapy research would improve the relationship between SCD sufferers (...)
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  28. Altered Inheritance: CRISPR and the Ethics of Human Genome Editing.Donna Dickenson - 2020 - The New Bioethics 26 (1):75-77.
    Review of Francoise Baylis, Altered Inheritance: CRISPR and the Ethics of Human Genome Editing (2019).
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  29. The theological debate over human enhancement: An empirical case study of a mediating organization.John H. Evans - 2020 - Zygon 55 (3):615-637.
  30. How to Play the “Playing God” Card.Moti Mizrahi - 2020 - Science and Engineering Ethics 26 (3):1445-1461.
    When the phrase “playing God” is used in debates concerning the use of new technologies, such as cloning or genetic engineering, it is usually interpreted as a warning not to interfere with God’s creation or nature. I think that this interpretation of “playing God” arguments as a call to non-interference with nature is too narrow. In this paper, I propose an alternative interpretation of “playing God” arguments. Taking an argumentation theory approach, I provide an argumentation scheme and accompanying critical questions (...)
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  31. Can reproductive genetic manipulation save lives?G. Owen Schaefer - 2020 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy (3):381-386.
    It has recently been argued that reproductive genetic manipulation technologies like mitochondrial replacement and germline CRISPR modifications cannot be said to save anyone’s life because, counterfactually, no one would suffer more or die sooner absent the intervention. The present article argues that, on the contrary, reproductive genetic manipulations may be life-saving (and, from this, have therapeutic value) under an appropriate population health perspective. As such, popular reports of reproductive genetic manipulations potentially saving lives or preventing disease are not necessarily mistaken, (...)
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  32. Genome editing: slipping down toward Eugenics?Davide Battisti - 2019 - Medicina Historica 3 (3):206-218.
    In this paper, I will present the empirical version of the slippery slope argument (SSA) in the field of genome editing. According to the SSA, if we adopt germline manipulation of embryos we will eventually end up performing or allowing something morally reprehensible, such as new coercive eugenics. I will investigate the actual possibility of sliding towards eugenics: thus, I will examine enhancement and eugenics both in the classical and liberal versions, through the lens of SSA. In the first part, (...)
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  33. Can Attitudes Toward Genome Editing Better Inform Cognitive Enhancement Policy?Davide Battisti, Alessandra Gasparetto & Mario Picozzi - 2019 - American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 10 (1):59-61.
    The article by Conrad et al. (AJOB Neuroscience, 2019, 10:1) does not take into account another, still hypothetical, procedure for cognitive enhancement (CE) which would be appropriate to consider in the surveys, i.e. the possibility to genetically enhance the cognitive abilities of a future individual using genome editing techniques. In this case, the conclusions of the article in the context of the “self-others difference” and “safety/naturalness” would be questioned. In fact, the results of the hypothetical surveys with the variant “genome (...)
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  34. The ethical landscape of gene drive research.Daniel Edward Callies - 2019 - Bioethics 33 (9):1091-1097.
    Gene drive technology has immense potential. The ability to bypass the laws of Mendelian inheritance and almost ensure the transmission of specific genetic material to future generations creates boundless possibilities. But alongside these boundless possibilities are major social and ethical issues. This article aims to introduce gene drive technology, some of its potential applications, and some of the social and ethical issues that arise during research into the technology. For example, is investigation into gene drives hubristic? Would applications of gene (...)
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  35. Commentary: Setting the Bar Higher.Nicolas Delon - 2019 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 28 (1):40-45.
    Commentary on Neuhaus and Parent, 'Gene doping--In Animals?' (2019).
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  36. Did a permissive scientific culture encourage the 'CRISPR babies' experiment?Donna Dickenson & Marcy Darnovsky - 2019 - Nature Biotechnology 27:350-369.
    We review the Nuffield Council on Bioethics 2018 report on germline gene editing and show how its shortcomings are part of an increasingly permissive climate among elite scientists that may well have emboldened the Chinese 'CRISPR babies' experiment. Without a robust and meaningful airing of the perils of human germline modification, these views are likely to encourage additional, more mainstream moves in the same dangerous direction.
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  37. Cloning Centering at Egoism.Yusuke Kaneko - 2019 - The Basis : The Annual Bulletin of Research Center for Liberal Education 9:245-260.
    Cloning research caught a great deal of attention when Dolly the sheep was born (§4). While some fear surrounded the attainment (§§14-15), Wilmutʼs research itself has grown well, providing a less vicious manner to gain ES cells (§12). In this article, we review the progress of cloning research along with the concern of medical circles about its application to reproductive cloning, that is to say, making replicas of human beings (§§16-21). Note that all the content is ascribed to the author (...)
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  38. Genomic Obsolescence: What Constitutes an Ontological Threat to Human Nature?Michal Klincewicz & Lily Frank - 2019 - American Journal of Bioethics 19 (7):39-40.
  39. What is the sufficientarian precautionary principle?G. Owen Schaefer - 2019 - Bioethics 33 (9):1083-1084.
    In their recent article, Koplin, Gyngell and Savulescu (2019) assess the viability of the precautionary principle as a decision-making tool to determine whether and under what circumstances germline gene editing should proceed. While their survey of different forms of the precautionary principle is illuminating, the most novel contribution is a new account of the precautionary principle, what they dub the Sufficientarian Precautionary Principle (SPP). SPP is meant to avoid several problems with existing accounts, while comporting with at least some of (...)
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  40. Toward Realism About Genetic Enhancement.G. Owen Schaefer - 2019 - American Journal of Bioethics 19 (7):28-30.
    Volume 19, Issue 7, July 2019, Page 28-30.
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  41. Yesterday’s Child: How Gene Editing for Enhancement Will Produce Obsolescence—and Why It Matters.Robert Sparrow - 2019 - American Journal of Bioethics 19 (7):6-15.
    Despite the advent of CRISPR, safe and effective gene editing for human enhancement remains well beyond our current technological capabilities. For the discussion about enhancing human beings to be worth having, then, we must assume that gene-editing technology will improve rapidly. However, rapid progress in the development and application of any technology comes at a price: obsolescence. If the genetic enhancements we can provide children get better and better each year, then the enhancements granted to children born in any given (...)
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  42. Should Parents Genetically Engineer their Children?Walter Veit - 2019 - Psychology Today.
    Imagine a world where everyone is healthy, intelligent, long living and happy. Intuitively this seems wonderful, albeit unrealistic. However, recent scientific developments in genetic engineering, namely CRISPR/Cas bring the question into public discourse, how the genetic enhancement of humans should be evaluated morally.
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  43. Review of Colin Farrelly, Genetic Ethics. [REVIEW]Jonathan Anomaly - 2018 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews:X-Y.
  44. Defending Eugenics: From cryptic choice to conscious selection.Jonny Anomaly - 2018 - Monash Bioethics Review 35:24-35.
  45. Looking into the shadow: The eugenics argument in debates on reproductive technologies and practices.Giulia Cavaliere - 2018 - Monash Bioethics Review 36 (1-4):1-22.
    Eugenics is often referred to in debates on the ethics of reproductive technologies and practices, in relation to the creation of moral boundaries between acceptable and unacceptable technologies, and acceptable and unacceptable uses of these technologies. Historians have argued that twentieth century eugenics cannot be reduced to a uniform set of practices, and that no simple lessons can be drawn from this complex history. Some authors stress the similarities between past eugenics and present reproductive technologies and practices (what I define (...)
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  46. Wild Animal Suffering is Intractable.Nicolas Delon & Duncan Purves - 2018 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 31 (2):239-260.
    Most people believe that suffering is intrinsically bad. In conjunction with facts about our world and plausible moral principles, this yields a pro tanto obligation to reduce suffering. This is the intuitive starting point for the moral argument in favor of interventions to prevent wild animal suffering. If we accept the moral principle that we ought, pro tanto, to reduce the suffering of all sentient creatures, and we recognize the prevalence of suffering in the wild, then we seem committed to (...)
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  47. Design Under Randomness: How Variation Affects the Engineering of Biological Systems.Tero Ijäs - 2018 - Biological Theory 13 (3):153-163.
    Synthetic biology offers a powerful method to design and construct biological devices for human purposes. Two prominent design methodologies are currently used. Rational design adapts the design methodology of traditional engineering sciences, such as mechanical engineering. Directed evolution, in contrast, models its design principles after natural evolution, as it attempts to design and improve systems by guiding them to evolve in a certain direction. Previous work has argued that the primary difference between these two is the way they treat variation: (...)
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  48. The composite redesign of humanity’s nature: a work in process.Lantz Fleming Miller - 2018 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 39 (2):157-164.
    One of the most salient contemporary concerns in academic debates and pop culture alike is the extent to which new technologies may re-cast Homo sapiens. Species members may find themselves encased in a type of existence they deem to be wanting in comparison with their present form, even if the promised form was assured to be better. Plausibly, the concern is not merely fear of change or of the unknown, but rather it arises out of individuals’ general identification with what (...)
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  49. On Appeals to Nature and their Use in the Public Controversy over Genetically Modified Organisms.Andrei Moldovan - 2018 - Informal Logic 38 (3):409-437.
    In this paper I discuss appeals to nature, a particular kind of argument that has received little attention in argumentation theory. After a quick review of the existing literature, I focus on the use of such arguments in the public controversy over the acceptabil-ity of genetically-modified organisms in the food industry. Those who reject this biotechnology invoke its unnatural character. Such arguments have re-ceived attention in bioethics, where they have been analyzed by distinguishing different meanings that “nature” and “natural” might (...)
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  50. Germline Modifications as a Severe Intervention into Human Nature.Nadia Primc - 2018 - In Matthias Braun, Hannah Schickl & Peter Dabrock (eds.), Between Moral Hazard and Legal Uncertainty: Ethical, Legal and Societal Challenges of Human Genome Editing. Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden. pp. 99-110.
    Manipulation of the human germline is sometimes criticised as a severe intervention into human nature. In order to assess the tenability of this claim, different uses of the term “human nature” and distinct scientific and clinical contexts must be differentiated. The first live birth of an edited human child will probably take the form of an unproven intervention and not a clinical trial. As an unproven intervention, germline manipulation must be regarded as a severe intervention into the nature of a (...)
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