Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Daily Deliberation #3

Is the genetic engineering of humans inevitable?

13 Comments:

Blogger Mike Beversluis said...

It seems inevitable. It's the flip side to eugenics and court-ordered sterilizations.

July 24, 2007 6:54 AM  
Blogger erp said...

What can be done, will be done. Can't put the genie back in the bottle.

July 24, 2007 9:52 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Maybe a more interesting question is how will society react when the inevitable tragic unintended consequences of a genetic engineering program occurs. Say a person is born with genes that were intended to make him an over-acheiver, but he ends up becoming a criminal mastermind. Will there be a backlash, like we're seeing with the environmental movement and gm crops?

July 24, 2007 10:12 AM  
Blogger erp said...

Answer to your question: do ducks have lips? Sorry I couldn't resist!

July 24, 2007 10:20 AM  
Blogger Susan's Husband said...

Imagine the "unwanted modification" lawsuits against parents, which will be wrongful life lawsuits on steroids.

July 24, 2007 10:46 AM  
Blogger Mike Beversluis said...

Most of the really horrible stuff will probably happen in Asia or Eastern Europe, but the biggest lawsuits will be over here.

Duck, probably the existing anti-GM-food groups will expand, joining in opposition with religious groups.

July 24, 2007 1:07 PM  
Blogger David said...

Just as with genetically engineered food, the only possible answer is that it is inevitable, because it's been happening for 10,000 years.

When whites prefer to marry whites? Genetic engineering.

When aristocrats arrange marriages? Genetic engineering.

When a man is dissuaded from proposing because of the insanity that runs in his intended's family? Genetic engineering.

When people hook up in college? Genetic engineering.

July 24, 2007 8:14 PM  
Blogger Duck said...

David,
Yes, that is how sexual selection works, which is a form of (the original form of) genetic engineering. There is no way to avoid that. But does your equivalence of the two ways of determining the genetic makeup of human offspring mean that you have no ethical or moral qualms about parents using recombinant dna manipulation to determine specific traits of their children, in a manner that may be little more than experimentation?

July 25, 2007 6:03 AM  
Blogger David said...

But, Duck, you didn't ask if we were happy with it or thought it was moral, you just asked if it is inevitable. Yes, it's inevitable.

Morally, my problem isn't so much experimenting (although that's obviously problematic) as culling. When the medical community decides to press women pregnant with Down's babies to abort, what's that?

July 25, 2007 6:47 AM  
Blogger joe shropshire said...

Well, I imagine some of us were probably conceived in a manner that was little more than experimentation. I was the last of three for my mom and five for my dad, so for all I know the !@#$% rubber just broke. Still glad to be here, most days.

July 25, 2007 9:24 AM  
Blogger erp said...

When it first became possible for parents to learn the sex of their baby before it was born, it was offputting, especially when people referred to the fetus by name, but now it's just how things are and as far as I can see, hasn't caused a great deal of culling for sex.

Perhaps we can be a bit optimistic about other new technology as it becomes available as well.

July 25, 2007 11:51 AM  
Blogger David said...

hasn't caused a great deal of culling for sex

In the States, at least.

But, so long as by "genetic engineering" we don't mean creating disposable humans, I'm not much bothered by genetic engineering.

July 25, 2007 1:08 PM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

I haven't thought much about this, but I understand that genetic engineering has just about eradicated Tay-Sachs as a human inheritance.

I cannot summon up any regrets about that, although, as Duck says, the same argument applied to, say, Down syndrome is not as appealing.

I was reading the evolutionist Christopher Wills earlier this week, who reminded me that when it became possible to go through childbirth without pain (through use of ether), the moralists objected that Scripture had ordered that childbirth be painful.

With that as my guidepost, I will be sure, as usual, when following this debate, to always ignore any statements from religious teachers.

July 25, 2007 3:37 PM  

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