Poll: Would You Genetically Enhance Your Baby?

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Given the chance, would you pick the gender, eye color, height, athletic ability, intelligence of your baby? No you say? What if everybody else was? Perhaps a better question would be: given the chance, would you genetically prevent things like schizophrenia, alcoholism, autism, antisocial personality disorder, MS? None of these questions are rhetorical. They're inevitable. The technology is here and it's coming.

Michael Sandell, a moral philospher at Harvard, makes an interesting and well thought out argument against perfection. Genetic enhancement of children says more about the hubris, controlling nature, and hyperparenting of the parent more than anything else. Parenting involves two kinds of love: the love that accepts children for who they are and how they turned out, no matter what (unconditional love). And the love that helps them their goals, find themselves, perfect their abilities. This is the love that can get out of control with genetic engineering.

eugenic parenting [that's what he calls it] is objectionable because it expresses and entrenches a certain stance toward the world—a stance of mastery and dominion that fails to appreciate the gifted character of human powers and achievements, and misses the part of freedom that consists in a persisting negotiation with the given (p. 83).

It's about "willfulness over giftedness, of dominion over reverance, of molding over beholding." Life should be a balance.

My opinion, after reading this book and thinking about it, is this: when it comes to preventing certain genetic diseases, every parent should be able to use genetic engeneering. No more babies born blind, or deaf, or with horrible predispositions that are not their fault. Think about it. Hitler and Stalin and Ted Bundy probabally had the inability to emotionally feel empathy. That's a genetic defect and it's a huge problem. I'm not saying this would cure war and murder (or Hitler or Stalin), but it would probably help a lot. It should be government run and free to all, paid for by taxes. It has to be. Leaving the market to decide would create a permanent underclass of poor, sick people like we've never seen before, discrimination based on genes. "You're resume? No thanks, we'll scan your genes...thanks for applying."

When it comes to enhancing intellegence, athletic ability, etc. I'm still undecided on how we should handle it. Yeah, sure, I would love to have a better memory. But the consequences writ large could be scary. It would change everything. And it's coming.

What do you think?


The Case Against Perfection

Posted by Matt Smith at 05/28/2013 09:45:36 AM | 

woops forget to mention Gattica. Great movie about the future of genetic engeneering. Watch it!
Posted by: Matt S ( Email ) at 5/28/2013 9:48 AM

This is such a point to ponder. First thought is no, definitely not, accept the baby for who he/she is. But then you think of how torturous some of the disorders can be on the individual (i.e. schizophrenia) and then you start to wonder...Picking eye color, etc., is totally unnecessary in my opinion, though...makes me think of Hitler.
Posted by: Kristen Larson ( Email ) at 5/28/2013 11:40 AM

If there was something seriously wrong with my child, then that would be the point that I would do anything genetically enhancing to my child. :)
Posted by: Jennifer F ( Email ) at 6/2/2013 2:54 PM

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