Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 651–664

Parental Virtue and Prenatal Genetic Alteration Research

Original Research

DOI: 10.1007/s11673-015-9650-8

Cite this article as:
Tonkens, R. Bioethical Inquiry (2015) 12: 651. doi:10.1007/s11673-015-9650-8


Although the philosophical literature on the ethics of human prenatal genetic alteration (PGA) purports to inform us about how to act, it rarely explicitly recognizes the perspective of those who will be making the PGA decision in practice. Here I approach the ethics of PGA from a distinctly virtue-based perspective, taking seriously what it means to be a good parent making this decision for one’s child. From this perspective, I generate a sound verdict on the moral standing of human PGA (research): given the current state of the art, good parents have compelling reason not to consent to PGA (research) for their child, especially as part of the first wave(s) of PGA research participants and especially for non-medically oriented purposes. This is because doing otherwise is inconsistent with a plausible and defensible understanding of virtuous parenting and parental virtues, founded on a genuine concern for promoting the overall flourishing of the eventual child. In essence, given the current and foreseeable state of the art, parents who allow prenatal genetic alteration of their children are less-than-virtuous parents to those children, even in cases where they have a right to do so and even if PGA turns out to be beneficial to the eventual child.


Prenatal genetic alteration Experimental research Virtuous parenting Parental wisdom Parental prudence Procreative beneficence 

Copyright information

© Journal of Bioethical Inquiry Pty Ltd. 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Human BioethicsMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia

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