Advances in the understanding of genetics have led to the belief that it may become possible to use genetic engineering to manipulate the DNA of humans at the embryonic stage to produce certain desirable traits. Although this currently cannot be done on a large scale, many people nevertheless object in principle to such practices. Most often, they argue that genetic enhancements would harm the children who were engineered, cause societal harms, or that the risks of perfecting the procedures are too high to proceed. However, many of these same people do not have serious objections to what is called ‘genetic planning’ procedures (such as the selection of sperm donors with desirable traits) that essentially have the same ends. The author calls the view that genetic engineering enhancements are impermissible while genetic planning enhancements are permissible the ‘popular view’, and argues that the typical reasons people give for the popular view fail to distinguish the two practices. This paper provides a principle that can salvage the popular view, which stresses that offspring from genetic engineering practices have grounds for complaint because they are identical to the pre-enhanced embryo, whereas offspring who are the result of genetic planning have no such grounds.
- embryos and fetuses
- philosophical ethics
Statistics from Altmetric.com
If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.
Competing interests None.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Read the full text or download the PDF:
Other content recommended for you
- In vitro eugenics
- Reproductive technologies, risk, enhancement and the value of genetic relatedness
- Paying for particulars in people-to-be: commercialisation, commodification and commensurability in human reproduction
- ‘My child will never initiate Ultimate Harm’: an argument against moral enhancement
- I'll be a monkey's uncle: a moral challenge to human genetic enhancement research
- Paternal age bioethics
- Genetic enhancements and expectations
- Maps of beauty and disease: thoughts on genetics, confidentiality, and biological family
- Moral reasons to edit the human genome: picking up from the Nuffield report
- Reproductive cloning combined with genetic modification