Moderate eugenics and human enhancement
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Though the reputation of eugenics has been tarnished by history, eugenics per se is not necessarily a bad thing. Many advocate a liberal new eugenics—where individuals are free to choose whether or not to employ genetic technologies for reproductive purposes. Though genetic interventions aimed at the prevention of severe genetic disorders may be morally and socially acceptable, reproductive liberty in the context of enhancement may conflict with equality. Enhancement could also have adverse effects on utility. The enhancement debate requires a shift in focus. What the equality and/or utility costs of enhancement will be is an empirical question. Rather than philosophical speculation, more social science research is needed to address it. Philosophers, meanwhile, should address head-on the question of how to strike a balance between liberty, equality, and utility in cases of conflict (in the context of genetics).
KeywordsEthics Genetics Eugenics Enhancement Liberty Equality Moderate Pluralism
Much of the research for this article was conducted during a 2007 visit to the Brocher Foundation, which I thank for support.
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