Christian Bioethics 5 (2):154-182 (1999)

Current philosophical and legal bioethical reflection on reprogenetics provides little more than a rationalization of the interests of science. There are two reasons for this. First, bioethicists attempt to address ethical issues in a “language of precision” that characterizes science, and this works against analogical and narratological modes of discourse that have traditionally provided guidance for understanding human nature and purpose. Second, the current ethical and legal debate is framed by a public/private distinction that banishes robust norms to the private realm, and leaves a minimalist public discourse of harm avoidance that is insufficient for regulating the science. In this essay, I argue that Mark Hanson's account of anxiety provides a valuable starting point for addressing deficiencies in the current philosophical and legal debate, and it highlights the need for a theological discourse on genetic enhancements. Through an assessment of Joel Shumann's criticism of the public/private distinction, I show how the needed theological discourse should be situated in the context of robust communities, and how such a communitarian inter-ethic is compatible with a variant of liberalism. Finally, I critically assess James Keenan's account of virtue and perfection, in order to outline what a sufficient discourse on reproductive and genetic enhancements requires
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DOI 10.1093/chbi.
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