Designing humans versus designing for humans: Some ethical issues in genetics

At a meeting of the American Society for Value Inquiry in Chicago last spring, and again at a conference on biomedical ethics last fall in London, Ontario, David J. Roy, Head of the Institute for Medical Humanities, University of Montreal, described a developing situation in the biomedical technologies about which he and many of his colleagues in the profession share an enormous apprehension. The biomedical sciences have in their possession, in development, and on the drawing boards a technology that has the potential of enabling us to alter much of what has to date been seen as fundamental givens and fixed points of the human situation, from the forms of human reproduction, through the frequency of distribution of various human characteristics, to those very characteristics themselves. His question , in the form of a plea, was this: it is becoming desperately urgent that scientists and technologists in these fields be given guidance about what they are doing; the sense is that what can be done ranges far beyond what should be done, and that the technological imperative (do what technology makes possible) and the epistemological imperative (find a use for what we know) are so strong that, in the absence of a normative consensus of what it is to be human, these sciences and technologies may well have a transforming impact upon a society that is not prepared to control them. When it becomes possible to eliminate the traditional and biological form of human reproduction, with the development of in vitro fertilization and the artificial placenta, shall we? When it becomes possible to eliminate deleterious genes from the human gene pool (or to limit their occurrence to the level of chance mutation), shall we? When it becomes possible to enable parents to select in advance characteristics of their offspring, from sex to hair and eye color, and perhaps even to influence the polygenic determinate and determinable characteristics of race, stature, aggressiveness, intelligence and talent, to the point that we can influence the distribution of propensities and abilities in the population to fit more closely the manpower needs of our society, shall we? Shall we breed astronauts, musicians..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 26,769
External links

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.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
The Precautionary Principle: A Dialectical Reconsideration.H. Tristram Engelhardt & Fabrice Jotterand - 2004 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 29 (3):301 – 312.
Moral Transhumanism.Ingmar Persson & Julian Savulescu - 2010 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 35 (6):656-669.
The Singularity: A Philosophical Analysis.David J. Chalmers - 2010 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 17 (9-10):9 - 10.
Truly Human Reproduction.Alexander R. Cohen - 2007 - Journal of Philosophical Research 32 (Supplement):305-313.
The Ethics of Robot Servitude.Stephen Petersen - 2007 - Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 19 (1):43-54.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

22 ( #225,213 of 2,158,890 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #132,304 of 2,158,890 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums