Reprogenetics will enable parents to give their children genes that
they themselves do not carry, thereby increasing their offspring's
chances for health, longevity, happiness, and success -- this is an
appalling prospect for many bio ethicists.
Eugenics embodies the desire and attempts of a society's leaders to
control the breeding practices of its citizens, including the forcible
sterilization or murder of those deemed as carrying undesirable genes.
Reprogenetics, by contrast, is concerned with the question of what
genes an individual child will receive, not with the vague,
unscientific goal of improving a society's gene pool. Moreover, it
gives control to individual prospective parents. While eugenic
practices led to a restriction of reproductive freedom and worse,
reprogenetics can do the opposite. It could help parents have children
with a higher likelihood of being healthy, without bringing direct
harm to anyone else.
Reprogenetics can be understood as an extension of parents'
fundamental motivation and desire: to protect their children and give
them all possible advantages in life. Parents in affluent societies
already provide environmental advantages to their children after
birth; reprogenetics could allow them to pursue the same objectives
Of course, neither environmental nor genetic advantages guarantee
healthier, happy, successful children. But the lack of guarantees does
not prevent parents from spending US$140,000 to send their children to
the elite private university where I teach. If democratic societies
allow people to spend money to buy environ...
... middle of paper ...
norms, which would otherwise be shifting over time. For example, some
aspects of the behaviour of nobles at the court of Louis XIV were seen
as entirely normal then. Today they would be seen as seriously
There will be two species of humans - those with genetic enhancements,
the superhumans and those without, the subclass. As they say in the
film, Gattaca, "we've got discrimination down to a science."One might
say, the only alternative, and one that may never be politically
viable: is a single world state in which all children are provided
with the same genetic enhancements and the same opportunities for
health, happiness, and success. James Watson, the co-discoverer of
DNA, believes it to be the responsibility of science to address the
'genetic injustice' that leaves people with inherited conditions.
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