Studies in Philosophy and Education

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 1–11 | Cite as

Biotechnology, ethics and education

  • Peter John FitzsimonsEmail author
Original Paper


Fundamental differences between current and past knowledge in the field of biotechnology mean that we now have at our disposal the means to irreversibly change what is meant by ‘human nature’. This paper explores some of the ethical issues that accompany the (as yet tentative) attempt to increase scientific control over the human genetic code in what amounts to a diminishing of difference and the reduction of human life to scientific explanations at the expense of spiritual, cultural and communal considerations. Within such a limited view, the critical role of education is reduced in favour of promoting psychological efficiency, with the possibility of accelerating learning and increasing intellectual capacity through genetic manipulation. A major concern expressed in the paper is the fine line between corrective therapy and psychological enhancement: Who should be defining the normal range of human difference? And what degree of caution should be required in redesigning future generations? The unknown dangers inherent in the (perhaps irreversible) application of genetic technology to human life suggests that current precautions may not go far enough in recognising that education is a contestable field.


Bioethics Biotechnology Subjectivity Genetic modification Identity 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Auckland Medical Aid TrustAucklandNew Zealand

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