genetic engineering

All posts tagged genetic engineering

An underlying but yet still prominent debate in today’s society has to do with the act of genetic enhancements and genetic engineering. It is a topic of discussion concerning the morality behind changing a person’s physical traits in order to better fit an image versus helping a person with a disability, or in any number of other ways. While I was aware of genetic engineering on corn or other foods, I have never paid much attention to the developing technology that could genetically engineer humans, until recently. Reading Partials by Dan Wells has opened my eyes to more details in the debate of genetic engineering.

 

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It could be possible in the near future that humans can choose to genetically enhance themselves to have more favorable physical traits. The technology is in the works to manipulate the specific genes in a baby or person in general to prevent autism, or Alzheimer’s, or give them blue eyes, or make sure they are deaf like their parents. I am now fully invested in the morality and consequences of such genetic engineering. While this may sound appealing, Partials shows how this can go wrong. When the government created genetically enhanced war machines called Partials, their plan backfired and the Partials ended up being more valued and dangerous to the human race than non-genetically enhanced humans were. I would love to be super athletic or have the most desired traits a person can have, but it’s unnatural. Sure it would be great to have all the traits we’ve always dreamed of having, but Partials has shown me this will inevitably create an even larger divide in today’s society, which is the last thing we need. Our world is already divided in every topic you can think of, do we really want to add genetic enhancement to that list? I sure don’t. And I have Dan Wells to thank for that new perspective.

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Wells, Dan. Partials. New York, Balzer Bray, 2012.

Truly Human Enhancement: a Philosophical Defense of Limits by Nicholas Agar, is a book focusing not only on human enhancement in today’s society, but also on what should be the limits of enhancement.

A summary of the chapter I focused on can be given as a discussion of  how genetically enhancing people would result in an increased moral status that could cause negative consequences. Agar states that while the possibility of the consequences exists, they should be avoided. Raising a person’s moral status through genetic engineering can result in the destruction of non-enhanced humans, as they are now dispensable. Agar also believes this society of some enhanced humans and some non-enhanced humans will not work because there is no way to smoothly transition from our society now to one half full of unnatural creations that are still considered human and half full of the same humans that have always existed.

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Other chapters in Agar’s book focus on the interest behind genetic enhancement, as well as more details in enhancement itself. The chapter I focused on for my research was relating moral status to genetic engineering and the inequality that it creates.

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Key ideas overall in Agar’s book are the many ways that genetic engineering would change the world, and how that is a bad thing. This book is relevant to many topics not only from the conference presentations, but in general research, as genetic enhancement is becoming more and more likely. It is already happening on a lower scale in labs with foods, but there is also genetic engineering for humans at the theoretical level. It is very possible in the near future, that we could be trying out gene enhancement on humans.

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Whether you agree or not with genetic engineering in humans, it is an interesting topic to look into, and Agar’s provides his side as well as some counter points to the genetic engineering debate.

 

Works Cited:

Agar, Nicholas. Truly Human Enhancement: a Philosophical Defense of Limits, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 2014, pp. 181-194. EBSCO, http://web.b.ebscohost.com/ehost/ebookviewer/ebook/bmxlYmtfXzY3NTc4NF9fQU41?sid=4f00f12e-ce1b-4ca1-aca3-2b288e94c1ce@sessionmgr120&vid=0&format=EB&rid=1

https://mitpress.mit.edu/authors/nicholas-agar

http://gmopeach.weebly.com/genetic-engineering.html