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Genetic Interventions And The Ethics Of Enhancement Of Human Beings By Julian Savulescu

3269 words - 13 pages

The evolution of technology has been hand in hand with the human subjugation of earth, but the question persists, when does the use of technology go too far? Advances in medical science have increased the average human lifespan and improved the quality of life for individuals. Medical science and biology are steadily arriving at new ways to alter humans by the use of advanced genetic alteration. This technology gives rise to the question of how this new technology ought to be used, if at all. The idea of human enhancement is a very general topic, since humans are constantly “enhancing” themselves through the use of tools. In referring to human enhancement, I am referring specifically to the use of genetic intervention prior to birth. Julian Savulescu, in his, “Genetic Interventions and the Ethics of Enhancement of Human Beings,” argues that it is not only permissible to intervene genetically, but is a morally obligatory. In this paper, I will argue that it is not morally obligatory to intervene genetically even if such intervention may be permissible under certain criteria. I will show, in contrast to Savulescu’s view, that the moral obligation to intervene is not the same as the moral obligation to prevent and treat disease. In short, I will show that the ability of humans to intervene genetically is not sufficient to establish a moral obligation.
The first argument given for the obligation of genetic enhancement is the postulate of the “Neglectful Parents”. Savulescu considers the case of two types of parents, the neglectful parents and the lazy parents. The neglectful parents have a child that has a condition wherein a simple, cheap dietary supplement must be given so that the child maintains an advanced intellect. The parents, being neglectful, do not bother with the supplement, and therefore the child’s advanced intellect drops into the normal range. The lazy parents have a child with an intellect in the normal range, but the same dietary supplement would allow the child to achieve an advanced intellect. The lazy parents are in fact lazy, so the child does not receive the supplement, and therefore the child’s intellect remains in the normal range. Savulescu suggests that in the aforementioned cases “diet” be substituted with “biological intervention”. The children in both cases would have had an advanced intellect had the parents “biologically intervened”, but as they did not the children remained normal with regard to their intellect. Savulescu argues that the inaction of the parents is a wrong to their children (Savulescu 420). However, there is a problem with the argument that Savulescu has put forward.
The analogical argument Savulescu uses is based on the assumption that genetic intervention is sufficiently similar to dietary supplementation. However, this assumption is unfounded because there is a significant difference between the respective durations of the two procedures, one that greatly weakens the analogy. Genetic...

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