Term Paper: Eugenics Genetic Enhancement

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[. . .] [footnoteRef:5] Rapid technology driven process of genetic design may achieve meaningful group specific change without reproductive isolation. With genetic refinements accumulating in the laboratory instead of in biological lineages, the spread of gene modules would be through mimetic rather than biological mechanisms. With the advent of germline engineering, human artificial chromosomes would render laboratory conception obligatory rather than optional. Unpredictability would result from intercourse. As society moves closer to becoming a meritocracy, the most talented will mate and over time this self-sorting will divide society increasing the distance between the more gifted and less. Narrowly limited genetic screening and enhancement technology would accelerate such divisions and reinforce privilege, whereas broadly available technology would counteract them[footnoteRef:6]. Stock argues that safety aside, why shouldn't we try to give our future children the talents we did not have or eliminate deficiencies that held us back.[footnoteRef:7] By giving children endowments, this would be a major step toward equalizing life's possibilities. When we are able to choose our offspring's genetic predispositions, we will probably opt to avoid most of the genetic disabilities and vulnerabilities that afflict us today.[footnoteRef:8] Stock asserts that as sophisticated embryo screening and germline manipulation begin to enrich enhancement possibilities, no doubt clusters of attributes will be reinforced, which in time will expand diversity.[footnoteRef:9] [5: Stock, Redesigning Humans, p. 180] [6: Ibid, p. 187.] [7: Ibid, p.188.] [8: Ibid, p. 190.] [9: Ibid, p. 193.]

I tend to agree with Stock. At the risk of sounding technophilic, genetic technologies are affecting society technologically at a pace faster than society or the legal system can keep up with them. I think this is for the better. Take for example, the Huntington's allele; any person with this allele has a 100% chance of acquiring the disease. Genetic screening and germline therapy provide reasonable solutions for preventing the birth of an embryo with the Huntington's allele. While Kitcher would agree with this, I don't believe in ensuing bans on genetic technologies due to reasons of social prejudice. I believe if the technology exists, that parents have a right or even prerogative to enhance the traits of their child according to their values.

Michael Sandel in The Case Against Perfection holds opposing arguments. Sandel questions the moral status of enhancement. In the case of bionic athletes, he argues that as the role of enhancement increases, our admiration for the achievement fades. [footnoteRef:10] The bionic athlete would not be an agent at all; his achievements would be those of his inventor. Enhancement is at odds with human freedom and moral responsibility. [footnoteRef:11] Sandel states that the real problem with genetically altered athletes is that they corrupt athletic competition as a human activity that honors the cultivation and display of natural talents.[footnoteRef:12] [10: Michael Sandel, The Case Against Perfection, p. 25.] [11: Ibid, p. 26.] [12: Ibid, p. 29.]

In terms of designing babies, Sandel also argues that there is something wrong with the ambition, be it individual or collective, to determine the genetic characteristics of our progeny by deliberate design. They represent the one-sided triumph of willfulness over giftedness, of dominion over reverence of molding over beholding.[footnoteRef:13] If the genetic revolution erodes our appreciation for the gifted character of human powers and achievements, it transforms three key features of our moral landscape -- humility, responsibility and solidarity. First the awareness of our talents and abilities are not wholly our own doing restrains our tendency toward hubris. Responsibility expands to daunting proportions. We attribute less to chance and more to choice. The more we become masters of our genetic endowments, the greater the burden we bear for the talents we have and the way we perform.[footnoteRef:14] [13: Ibid, p. 85.] [14: Ibid, p. 86-87.]

Sandel presents a fair and reasonable criticism of eugenic decision making. However, he fails to see that there are opposing viewpoints on the subject of genetic engineering. As Stock points out, what is the difference between enhancement through education and genetic enhancement? Cosmetic surgery has existed for a long time; what is the difference between that and genetic enhancement? Sandel offers a picture of the world in which the gifted (or those who are born gifted) are the only ones who have the opportunity to succeed, leaving the rest of society behind. As Stock suggests, by increasing the potential of those who "lost" the genetic lottery, a leveling of society would take place, preventing the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Eugenics Genetic Enhancement.  (2011, March 17).  Retrieved July 18, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/eugenics-genetic-enhancement/2231962

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"Eugenics Genetic Enhancement."  Essaytown.com.  March 17, 2011.  Accessed July 18, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/eugenics-genetic-enhancement/2231962.