Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 9 (2):181-192 (2005)
AbstractIn the present paper it is argued that genetic interventions on human embryos are in principle permissible if they promote the health of the persons that these embryos will one day become and impermissible if they compromise their health. This so called health-intervention principle is reached by, inter alia, rejecting alternative approaches to the problem of the permissibility of genetic intervention. The health-intervention principle can be interpreted in different ways depending on how the notion of health is understood. The central part of the paper is an attempt to find a concept of health which is such that it makes the health-intervention principle normatively plausible. For this purpose I examine two influential competing theories of health: Cristopher Boorse’s biostatistical theory of health and Lennart Nordenfelt’s welfare theory of health. I argue that the health-intervention principle is more plausible if health is understood in the latter sense, although it is not ruled out that the principle may be given an even more plausible explication in terms of some other notion of health
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