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Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering

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Aspen Ideas Festival 2007

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balthazarF Avatar
Posted: 03.02.10, 10:45 AM
Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering - Putting the Cart Before The Horse If we accept that life is a continuing and self-replicating process which goes across all species, then it follows that doing the hokey-pokey IS what it's all about. If we do not accept that, then we need first to explore what life is. This is not done. When that is settled, the issue of first importance is, "are moral/ethical discussions appropriate to the species spanning process, life, or are such discussions to be limited to just one of the millions of species of life, homo sapiens and if so, why?". Only when that discussion is completed we will have a base for moral/ethical discussions on reproduction. (see also Sandel's Aristotle's ethos discussion, which, while interesting, also asks the wrong question a priori ) Within the actual discussion (child by design) the comparative 'inflicting harm on a child (by design)' as opposed to the 'physcially attractive, athletic, high SAT' child by design through unnatural methods is suggested as a valid ethical question. Some people in the audience either objected to both (expressed conclusion based on show of hands) or were without opinion (an option not suggested, thus ignored - form your own conclusions on ignorance). Not asked first, and thus not explored (and presuming as intent that the discussion is limited to just one species), is the question, "are there moral/ethical implications of circumventing nature (genetic inability to reproduce as a couple) by unnatural methods to create a human life and if so why, what are they and are they static?". Clearly this is an area for consideration necessary to take place well before any moral/ethical implications of 'design' can be considered. If moral/ethical implications of the 'design' aspects are to be considered, the responsibilities to 'design process success' must first be addressed. If such success of artificial process cannot be guaranteed, is there any reason to discuss moral/ethical implications of a process of randomness? The quest for designer children and the ethos of discrimination (again see Sandel's Aristotle ethos discussion) through artificial selective breeding (a big 'whoops' for the couple which erred in the traditional approach to breeding selectivity since the couple has the inability to reproduce). The Moderator, with interruption, asks, "If that particular drug (designer amphetamine) can reverse Alzheimer's, also can enhance mental ability, why can I not take it to enhance my own mental ability, to enhance my memory...?" Other than understanding the caveat of unintended consequences, under the Constitution (American society) you can. In order to have the right to free speech (Amendment I) you must have the right to your thoughts and your percepts (Amendment IX). Oh, I could go on. But that involves philosophy and not the entertainment which has been offered by the panel.
Balumuthu Avatar
Posted: 04.11.09, 10:10 PM
Please do view this interesting short video debate on 'Ethics in an Age of Genetic Engineering'. It stimulates thinking. I viewed and commented with the thoughts that came to me after viewing. Worth recommending for you to your selected friends.
Balumuthu Avatar
Posted: 04.11.09, 10:06 PM
Man is imperfect. An omnipotent Divine (that is, a being beyond all possible human capability potentials), it can be inferred even by exercise of our intellect in an open manner, has willed a system of the cosmos and the beings, including man and the ecology on earth in the most perfect manner. Science and technology is purely a product of the imperfect human intellect which is conditioned by the space-time constraint. There must be several dimensions additional to space-time, which only the super-intlligent cosmic conscious knows and uses as tool to maintain and keep the cosmic system evolving. If man wants to change it, he is simply ill-equipped to do that, but in his ego, he cannot comprehend the fact of his incapacity. Genetic engineering is product of human intellect. Ethics have to do with feelings, emotions, sentiments, and other binding cement for a cogent and cohesive world and universe. Choosing sex or other features of a child being conceived can lead to a world of monsters and universal extinction when too many monsters are there and fight out one another. This fundamental truth can be elaborated at considerable length.

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