In The Case Against Perfection, Sandel warns us of the dangers that genetic engineering, steroids, and hormones poses to society and the natural order. According to Sandel, this type of control, especially in non-medical settings, violates a respect for life that should be ingrained in all of us. Life is something difficult to predict, something that shouldn’t bend to our every single will and desire. Genetic engineering, and the like, presents an egregious violation of this respect. According to Sandel, this violation serves only to reverse the human march of progress. Sandel weaves a well-balanced argument in his book. The issue of eugenic technology is most definitely not black or white. According to him, the aspects of modification can be applied selectively, so long as it doesn’t violate the respect for life society should hold closely.
Is it wrong to make a child deaf by design? How much leeway should parents have in selecting the characteristics of their child (when it comes to aspects of identity)? Should they have any? These are just a couple of difficult questions posed by Sandel. Presenting a similar case, Sandel discusses the case of an infertile couple seeking an egg donor. They sought a very specific type of donor, going as far as requesting an achieved SAT score. In both of these cases, the outcomes are still susceptible to a certain degree natural variation and uncertainty. Does this element of unpredictability add to the moral correctness of these cases?
When it comes to athletes and their sport, drugs and genetic fixes diminish achievement. The more an athlete relies on drugs and genetic engineering, the more difficult it is to respect his/her achievements. Sandel presents a scenario. Imagine a robotic baseball batter, whose every sing, controlled by a computer chip, generated the perfect amount of angle. Does this present a problem to human responsibility? Sandel, quite convincingly, argues that this is less achievement on the part of the athlete, and more of the inventor’s. Ultimately, there is a fundamental danger in mankind’s pursuit to coerce nature to serve our purposes. What this does is destroy the deep appreciation we should have for the gifted nature of every human life.
This appreciation for the giftedness of life provides us with a powerful thought. Perhaps our talents and abilities are not totally “ours” despite our effort to cultivate and perfect them. Our gifts are very much a result of the genetic lottery we all have no say in participating in. Recognizing and accepting this fact might be called a “religious sensibility.” But the ramifications of such thought extend far beyond the...