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Genetic Interventions assignment and the Ethics of Enhancing Human Beings: A Bio-ethics Seminar Report
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Genetic Interventions assignment and the Ethics of Enhancing Human Beings: A Bio-ethics Seminar Report


Task: Is it morally permissible, or even obligatory, for parents to genetically enhance their children? This seminar Genetic Interventions assignment discusses the ethical implications, objections, and justifications surrounding this controversial issue.



Savulescu’s article, “Genetic Interventions assignment and the Ethics of Enhancement of Human beings”, is all concerned about the critical usage of technology and it is all about the threat the consequences can bring in to the very nature of the human beings as well as to the dignity of the human beings as well (Savulescu). Beyond the existing setting of views and arguments, the article extends the applicability of the technology for the human beings enhancement and states that human enhancement is not only permissible but it is obligatory too. Authors in this article taken up a more provocative position, far from the previous views of voluntary acceptances; indicating that we do possess a moral obligation to enhance ourselves as well as our future generations too. It is something like the same commitment, which we have to prevent the disease and the treat the disease as well.

Based on these views, and the inferences drawn from the view point of the Savulescu, a controversial issue is attempted to be provided justification with an acceptable action. According to Savluescu, genetic enhancement is not merely ethically permissible, but it is ethically obligatory too. Whether it is really true, what are the issues of importance that worked to made the author support this reasoning. What are the specific moral issues of concern that supports this reasoning? What is the reason, for the author to indicate that it is morally required to employ cyborg technology to enhance their children? These are some of the key questions addressed in the following part of the report. The justification and reasoning is mainly derived from the Savulescu article and the reasoning used by the author in this article mainly is taken for supporting the rationale behind the argument made here-in. The report specifically evaluates the statement, that the parents letting the human enhancement of their children is not only permissible but obligatory too.

Background to the issue and Discussion on Related Bio-ethics Insights from Julian Savluescu’s Analysis of Bioethics

At the outset, the views expressed by the author in the article, about usage of Genetic Technology for disease control can be extended for improving the lives of the people as well. The author indicated that at the most basic level, the biological features of the human beings can be improved, with the application of the genetic technology, further the lives of the people can be improved as well. For instance, letting the people live for long time, happier and healthier is possible with the interferences into the genetic features and improving the same.

As long as the technology or the development is offering positive benefits, one can accept the same. Infact the human history is evolving along the similar lines. Technologies of vaccinations, are condemned and objected at the early times, but now after knowing the fruits of the developments, people accepted the same. The life without vaccinations is not imaginable now (Rus & Grošelj). The dilemmas of acceptance and issues of moralities are arising just as the technology of human enhancement is new and people does not know much about the same, it will be accepted soon without hesitation, once there is comprehensive knowledge of the same is understood (Badii et al.).

Literature Review on Human improvement:

There are certain authors like Sanders, who categorically opposed such enhancement, stating that the gift of life is beyond the mastery and any attempt for such an attempt is just flawed. Well, Equivocally, in the subsequent scholarly presentations, authors like Frances Kamm (Kamm), rebutted the views of Sandel, and said that the human enhancement is permissible. However, here the debate raised on the contextuality of obligation for considering the human enhancement. Nicholas Agar, categorically indicated that the human enhancement can be permissible, but cannot be made an obligation.

This is here the author Savulescu, emphasized the need for extension of the human enhancement beyond permissivity, it is said that it is necessary to made obligatory. Just how right it is to let someone free from disease and enjoy a healthier life. It is logically same, to provide support for a human being to enhance their life. Biological manipulation for better quality of life is indeed a natural thriving and there is nothing wrong in that according to Savulescu. According to him, there is no any breach of ethics happening in the due course of time. Infact such biological manipulations are part of human history from long time. In one way or other they are part of the human life style and thriving for better life. The current discussed biological modification for human enhancement is a new evolution, but is not a totally new process or phenomenon.

Application of the discussion to the case argument and justifying the conclusion

Case Argument and the Rationale for arriving to that conclusion:

The specific case argument, is that parents not only can but should genetically enhance their children. Well, this is right and acceptable argument from the reasoning provided by Julian Savluescu arguments. They are quite convincing and draws any logically inclined person to accept that discussion. It is rightly said by Julian, that Choosing not to enhancement is wrong. It is ethically not right, in not letting the child to sustain the best competencies and special attributes he possesses, it is equally same, that it is not ethically right to deprive a child from letting them to improve from their current state of conditions for better. It is analogous to the specific case argument conditions. A child when is given with a human enhancement intervention, they can have access to better features, better life and better competencies. So it is not right to deprive them from access to these features. Hence it is reasonably right to conclude that the parents should genetically enhance their children. Such an enhancement will provide them support to upkeep their quality of life in general. It is not an ethical violation to permit such enhancement, rather it can be an ethical obligation to do so.

From the perspectives of Consistency:

Well there are instances in the literature, where demarcations are plotted between the interventions like environmental interventions (like diet, education, training and so forth), as well as those of biological interventions. They are absolutely similar and these interventions are consistent. The moral frameworks, whichever are used for supporting these environmental interventions are equally valid for supporting the genetic or biological interventions as well. The underlying moralities are same in both type of interventions. As a matter of fact, Environmental interventions indeed, bring in a biological change for betterment of the lives of the people. If some-one says that biological interventions are irreversible, so is the case of certain environmental interventions too. Also if environmental changes and influences are morally right, the biological interventions are also morally right. So, there is nothing to apprehend or object for the biological enhancements and they are just consistent like any other environmental intervention. So according to author, it is right and justified to go for biological enhancement. So from this perspective too, parent’s consideration of human enhancement of their children is acceptable.

Just like treating a disease:

If someone accepts and agrees that there is a moral obligation to treat and prevent a disease, then it is right to accept the biological intervention for human enhancement as well. The objectives of both these modes of actions are ultimately improving the life and the quality of living. They are not different. The ultimate purpose, when it is same for both these activities, there is no reasoning in accepting one and rejecting the other. As discussed before, a new technology like vaccination is viewed skeptical and some objected, stating it is against the nature and thwarting with the god’s will. It is never so, God never created, human beings to face sorrow and misery, then can accept betterment of life as part of nature. Any strategy or tool available for such a change can be accepted as normal.

Possible objections and Analysis from the merits of the human enhancement

Limitations from Liberal state principles:

Giving a better quality of life and letting the people have a more reasonably rightful and healthier life is not only justified from the rational reasoning discussed above. There are other merits that support the intervention. For instance, the safety of the intervention is a criterion to be looked in. As long as the biological in intervention is safer for the subject, there cannot be any objection for that in administrating to their children. Harm to others is a possible limitation that can restrict the intervention. However, the biological intervention suggested here provides a bit of better life for the children, but it is not intended to harm others. So after critical evaluation of the case and the content, unless there is any direct or indirect harm to the others in the society, there is no need for object the intervention. There is no deviance from the justice principles. Either social justice, moral justice or any other acceptable framework of justice if is against to the implications of the implementation of intervention, then it can be objected. However, the current proposed, biological interventions are all valid and do have rational acceptability from each of these liberal state perspectives and possible limitations in accepting the enhancement. Since the current enhancement does not have any objection from these perspectives, there is no ground to object the approval of the enhancement and it is perfectly acceptable.

Procreative autonomy of the parents is what matters, here, when the parents do have liberty and autonomy in deciding what is right and fit for their children, they also need to consider the human enhancement factors that can promise better life for their children. Parents do have legitimate stake in their children, they have legitimate right to demand more for their children. It is totally their private matter. Expectation from their children is legitimate, as they are making the invaluable investment on their children as well are making considerable efforts over their children. They have a genuine right to expect better life for their children, with which their interests (parent’s interests) are integrated as well.

Some other possible concerns of Objection

Open Future

While justifying the objective of the intervention, accepting the process and underlying justification of the rationale from diverse perspectives, it is also worth emphasizing the issue of open future. Open future is a domain, where in the child will be provided an opportunity and will be having autonomy to select and formulate his own future as per his own wishing. When the child has capacity to decide his future from the multiple options, it is ethically acceptable. A child can be provided with an opportunity, to choose his own options in life. Well, Genetic enhancement, in no way interfere with this autonomy of children. Infact there is also scope for children to have even better and wider options with the capacities enhanced by Genetic enhancement procedures. So, as such the open future of child is never compromised through human enhancement and so is reasonably acceptable and permissible (Davis).

Thwarting the God’s Will: The objection is that a child is a god’s gift and altering the characteristics and features of the child is just against the god’s will. Well, these objections are groundless, from several perspectives. When giving a child, a good health is permissible and acceptable from the God’s will and from his own perspective, it is also right to accept the genetic interference to ensure better life to the child.

Objections from the knowledge perspective: An objection is that the technology and knowledge at present are limited. Human beings are limited and not are omnipotent like God. It might be possible that an interference with one feature can create a challenge in other and so, it is not right and not necessary to go from enhancement with complete knowledge. Well, the possible response for this objection can be to move with precaution. There is nothing like capture of complete knowledge overnight. The mankind progression has gone through several mile stones. Vaccinations have made it possible that several deadly diseases were terminated, several others are controlled. The human evolution is becoming more potent and healthier. Same is the applicable reasoning here too. If there are apprehensions on the human enhancement, one can go for selection. A selection is better than enhancement from risk perspectives. Also the enhancement can be selected, once after getting totally satisfaction of the consequences. As well after complete evaluation of the benefits over the harms, the selected intervention for enhancement can be taken up. So it can be considered as an obligation to be fulfilled, rather than objecting the intervention as a whole.

Objection from Genetic Discrimination perspective: It is possible to have an objection from the fear that there can be genetic discrimination, between the enhanced and unenhanced children population groups. The possible solution for this issue, is not to curtail the enhancement, rather it is necessary to ensure a framework, where there is no discrimination happens and there will be policies to support the disadvantaged. It always happens that there will be both advantageous and disadvantageous exists there in the society, the life is with diversity, the attempts and struggles of mankind will be aimed to consistently improve the lives of the people. Genetic enhancement is aimed to improve the lives of the people, and so the objection can be overruled, and the lives of the people can be improved, there is no need for curtailing the same on the grounds of possible discrimination.

Objections from the perfect child, mystery life and sterility: It is not right that every one’s vision of life will be same. Different people values different perfections in life. There is nothing life perfect child. Also there is no chance for everyone being perfect in life and same. The sterility of life cannot be compromised by human enhancement. The mystery life will be there and cannot be averted. From all these reasoning’s, objections for better life cannot be eliminated from the concept of human enhancement perspectives.

Objections from human nature perspective: A common argument that the human enhancements are tampering the human nature and they are not humane is not acceptable. Firstly, human beings are different from animals, we have rationality and the fact that the normative judgements are kind of rationality demonstrations is true. So an individual can do take up a judgement for betterment of his offspring, as long as it is not violating the humane aspects. So it is true that an individual should be allowed to take up human enhancement for ensuring better life.

Objection – Self-Defeating: Some concerns include, that human enhancements are more of self-defeating. At the end they are often becoming as no value adding as makes up no relative gain. However, it is a case sensitive issue of concern, a typical evaluation to be done from the perspective that what benefits the enhancement can offer to the individual and subsequent assessment is expected to decide the decision.

Application of Cyborg Technology for human enhancement and moralities

If the cyborg technology offers more superior human being with better happiness and health and life it is morally right and acceptable to take up human enhancement using cyborg technologies as well. If Cyborg technologies can result in offering of better human enhancements, then both from the utilitarian ethical lens as well from the reasoning of scholars like Julian Savluescu, it should be embraced with fair acceptance. So it can be accepted and integrated into the human development process for better and healthier lives of the human beings. However, the caution obviously lies in the actual evaluation of the technology for its compatibility for better life and inferences for the human beings. More specifically, as long as they are harmless and do not either provide any established moralities and does not offer unfair advantage, there is no objection to consider cyborg technologies for human enhancement. The rationale of consideration from both the cyborg as well as from the Genetic technologies is similar and justified and will offer the same human enhancements and poses similar answers to the underlying moral dilemmas. So when genetic technologies are accepted, even the cyborg technologies can be accepted for the same reasons and justifications.

Concluding Remarks

As long as human enhancement, does not interfere the basic ethical framework of the society, there is nothing harm in encouraging the same. As of the critical reflection and evaluation done of this development, there is no harm found to any issue of ethical breach, integrity breach or undue harm to others, and so forth. Just like providing a disease free life gifted to the child, it is also necessary to provide an improved quality of life to the child. This is absolutely possible through human enhancement using Genetic technologies. Genetic interferences and subsequent improvement of human life is an acceptable development, that can change the way, the child leads life in the world. A parent has an ethical obligation to provide a decent life to his child. If not, he is not doing his duty. Human enhancement is justified, as it is not wrong, it is consistent like any other medical treatment.

It is acceptable and need to be considered. Also, none of the objections like offering of open future limitations, Thwarting the god’s will, possible challenges from knowledge perspective, genetic discrimination perspective, self-defeating perspectives cannot actually limit the adaption of the human enhancement. As long as the outcomes does not offer any ethical breach, like unfair competitive advantage to the child, does not deviate the responsibility for the achievements, as well does not offer economic inequality or racism and so forth, there is no reason to object for the same. There are several positive perspectives, like offering a good life for a child through human enhancement, is as good and right as offering, a decent and healthy life to the child. Also, it is equally right and true that human enhancement will not limit the open future of the child. So parent can permit human enhancement of the child through Genetic Interventions assignment. It is not only permissible, but is an obligation too.

Works Cited

Agar, Nicholas. Liberal Eugenics. Edited by Nicholas Agar, Blackwell Publishing, 2004, https://doi.org10.1002/9780470775004.

Cambra-Badii, Irene, et al. ‘The Good Doctor and Bioethical Principles: A Content Analysis’. Educación Médica, vol. 22, no. 2, Elsevier BV, Mar. 2021, pp. 84–88, https://doi.org10.1016/j.edumed.2019.12.006.

Davis, D. S. ‘Genetic Dilemmas and the Child’s Right to an Open Future’. The Hastings Center Report, vol. 27, no. 2, JSTOR, Mar. 1997, pp. 7–15, https://doi.org10.2307/3527620.

Kamm, Frances M. ‘Is There a Problem with Enhancement?’ The American Journal of Bioethics: AJOB, vol. 5, no. 3, Informa UK Limited, Summer 2005, pp. 5–14, https://doi.org10.1080/15265160590945101.

Rus, Meta, and Urh Groselj. ‘Ethics of Vaccination in Childhood-A Framework Based on the Four Principles of Biomedical Ethics’. Vaccines, vol. 9, no. 2, MDPI AG, Feb. 2021, p. 113, https://doi.org10.3390/vaccines9020113.

Sandel, Michael J. The Case against Perfection. Belknap Press, 2009, https://doi.org10.4159/9780674043060.

Savulescu, Julian. Genetic Interventions assignment and the Ethics of Enhancement of Human Beings. Oxford University Press, 2009, https://doi.org10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199562411.003.0023.


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