Social Perspectives and Genetic Enhancement: Whose Perspective? Whose Choice?

Studies in Ethics, Law, and Technology 1 (1) (2007)
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Sarah E. Wilson, University of Central LancashireThis paper's account of the core issues at stake in relation to genetic enhancement is presented as an alternative to mainstream liberal defenses of enhancement. The mainstream arguments are identified as being associated with reproductive autonomy, individual choice, and a `neutral', passive interpretation of technology. The alternative account is associated with the perspective of `woman' or child-bearer, with a fundamental concern for social justice, and an understanding of society in both a global and a contextual sense. This paper adopts a theoretical framework informed by feminist ethics, particularly a feminist ethic of care. The paper begins by outlining some of the key points of the care perspective, highlighting how this contrasts with a mainstream `justice' perspective, and illustrating how this is reflected in arguments relating to genetic enhancement. The paper then turns to a consideration of how a care perspective might be applied to questions of genetic enhancement, and how this may bring forward new issues. This includes in particular a consideration of IVF technologies and how applying understandings from research into this area brings forward usually unaddressed concerns in considering genetic enhancement. The final section of the paper covers some of the questions that there is space to ask once the narrow focus on individual rights is overcome.



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Sarah Wilson
University of York
Sarah Wilson
University of Plymouth

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