Examination Essay

3416 words - 14 pages

NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE

NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE

EXAMINATION FOR THE DEGREE OF

BACHELOR OF ENGINEERING

EG1413 - CRITICAL THINKING AND WRITING

Semester 1: 2008/2009

26 November 2008

Time Allowed: 2 Hours

INSTRUCTIONS TO CANDIDATES

1. This examination paper contains ONE (1) question and comprises EIGHT (8) printed pages.

2. Answer THE QUESTION in the ANSWER BOOKLET provided.

3. Hand in the ANSWER BOOKLET at the end of this examination.

4. This is a CLOSED BOOK examination.

In approximately 750 words, write a critique of the article `To enhance or not to enhance'. Your critique should:

Summarize the writer's argument (in no more than one paragraph);

Evaluate the argument, i.e. assess its strengths and weaknesses;

Make reference to the secondary materials `The ethics of enhancement' and `Human cells adopt DIY chromosome' where appropriate (avoiding plagiarism and using the APA conventions for in-text and end-of-text citation);

Be accurately written and cohesive.

To enhance or not to enhance

Ronald Bailey

What genetic enhancements should parents be allowed to make in their offspring when those biotech innovations become available and relatively safe? You might think it's far too early to worry about such questions. However, opponents of new biotech research such as Francis Fukuyama disagree.

"We may be about to enter into a posthuman future, in which technology will give us the capacity gradually to alter [human] essence over time," worries Fukuyama in his new book Our Posthuman Future. Champions of the biotech future are with Fukuyama on this point: "We are on the cusp of profound biological change, poised to transcend our current form and character on a journey to destinations of new imagination," declares Gregory Stock in his new book, Redesigning Humans.

Let us assume that cheap, reliable genetic interventions will be available to parents in the next couple of decades. One such technology might involve inserting artificial chromosomes carrying genes selected by parents into an embryo at the one-cell stage. Once the artificial chromosomes have been incorporated into the embryo's genome, the selected genes would spread normally so that they would be in every cell of the enhanced child's body when he or she is born. Assuming something like artificial chromosomes will work, what limits, if any, should be put on parents' choices?

The reasonable-person standard

Opponents object that genetic enhancement technologies will not be safe, at least initially. Of course any enhancement technologies will have to be thoroughly tested in animals before they can be used to help people. Fortunately, our quickly advancing understanding of the complex web of interactions between genes and other cellular activities is likely to...

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