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‘Serious’ science: a response to Kleiderman, Ravitsky and Knoppers


In their paper ‘The “serious” factor in germline modification’, Kleiderman, Ravitsky and Knoppers rightly highlight the ambiguity in the oft-utilised term ‘serious’ in legal discussions of human germline genome modification.1 They suggest interpretation of this term may benefit from a framework based on human rights rather than solely objectivist or constructivist frameworks. In this response, I show the authors provide a narrow and hasty dismissal of objectivist frameworks by defining objectivism broadly as ‘based on biological facts’ early on but later criticising genetic treatment lists, a single narrow implementation of only some of the facts. Furthermore, I will show their consideration of the right to science is biassed towards the material innovations of science, the authors succeed in recognising but fail in elaborating on the knowledge gained from scientific progress; knowledge which may ultimately update moral intuitions and change the nature of ethical conversation across cultures.

  • ethics
  • genethics
  • genetic engineering
  • genetic selection

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