Is cloning human beings morally wrong? The basis for the one serious objection to cloning is that, because of what a clone is, clones would have much worse lives than non-clones. I sketch a fragment of moral theory to make sense of the objection. I then outline several ways in which it might be claimed that, because of what a clone is, clones would have much worse lives than non-clones. In particular, I look at various ideas connected with autonomy. I conclude that there is no basis to the claim that, because of what a clone is, clones would have much worse lives than non-clones. I therefore reject the claim that cloning human beings is morally wrong. (+info)
Equality and selection for existence.
It is argued that the policy of excluding from further life some human gametes and pre-embryos as "unfit" for existence is not at odds with a defensible idea of human equality. Such an idea must be compatible with the obvious fact that the "functional" value of humans differs, that their "use" to themselves and others differs. A defensible idea of human equality is instead grounded in the fact that as this functional difference is genetically determined, it is nothing which makes humans deserve or be worthy of being better or worse off. Rather, nobody is worth a better life than anyone else. This idea of equality is, however, not applicable to gametes and pre-embryos, since they are not human beings, but something out of which human beings develop. (+info)
Can we learn from eugenics?
Eugenics casts a long shadow over contemporary genetics. Any measure, whether in clinical genetics or biotechnology, which is suspected of eugenic intent is likely to be opposed on that ground. Yet there is little consensus on what this word signifies, and often only a remote connection to the very complex set of social movements which took that name. After a brief historical summary of eugenics, this essay attempts to locate any wrongs inherent in eugenic doctrines. Four candidates are examined and rejected. The moral challenge posed by eugenics for genetics in our own time, I argue, is to achieve social justice. (+info)
Genetically determined obesity in Prader-Willi syndrome: the ethics and legality of treatment.
A central characteristic of people with Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS) is an apparent insatiable appetite leading to severe overeating and the potential for marked obesity and associated serious health problems and premature death. This behaviour may be due to the effects of the genetic defect resulting from the chromosome 15 abnormalities associated with the syndrome. We examine the ethical and legal dilemmas that can arise in the care of people with PWS. A tension exists between a genetic deterministic perspective and that of individual choice. We conclude that the determination of the capacity of a person with PWS to make decisions about his/her eating behaviour and to control that behaviour is of particular importance in resolving this dilemma. If the person is found to lack capacity, the common law principles of acting in a person's "best interests" using the "least restrictive alternative" may be helpful. Allowing serious weight gain in the absence of careful consideration of these issues is an abdication of responsibility. (+info)
Disability, gene therapy and eugenics--a challenge to John Harris.
This article challenges the view of disability presented by Harris in his article, "Is gene therapy a form of eugenics?" It is argued that his definition of disability rests on an individual model of disability, where disability is regarded as a product of biological determinism or "personal tragedy" in the individual. Within disability theory this view is often called "the medical model" and it has been criticised for not being able to deal with the term "disability", but only with impairment. The individual model of disability presupposes a necessary causal link between a certain condition in the individual and disablement. The shortcomings of such a view of disability are stated and it is argued that in order to have an adequate ethical discourse on gene therapy perspectives from disability research need to be taken into consideration. (+info)
Human cloning laws, human dignity and the poverty of the policy making dialogue.
BACKGROUND: The regulation of human cloning continues to be a significant national and international policy issue. Despite years of intense academic and public debate, there is little clarity as to the philosophical foundations for many of the emerging policy choices. The notion of "human dignity" is commonly used to justify cloning laws. The basis for this justification is that reproductive human cloning necessarily infringes notions of human dignity. DISCUSSION: The author critiques one of the most commonly used ethical justifications for cloning laws - the idea that reproductive cloning necessarily infringes notions of human dignity. He points out that there is, in fact, little consensus on point and that the counter arguments are rarely reflected in formal policy. Rarely do domestic or international instruments provide an operational definition of human dignity and there is rarely an explanation of how, exactly, dignity is infringed in the context reproductive cloning. SUMMARY: It is the author's position that the lack of thoughtful analysis of the role of human dignity hurts the broader public debate about reproductive cloning, trivializes the value of human dignity as a normative principle and makes it nearly impossible to critique the actual justifications behind many of the proposed policies. (+info)
Genotype, phenotype and cancer: role of low penetrance genes and environment in tumour susceptibility.
Role of heredity and lifestyle in sporadic cancers is well documented. Here we focus on the influence of low penetrance genes and habits, with emphasis on tobacco habit in causing head and neck cancers. Role of such gene-environment interaction can be well studied in individuals with multiple primary cancers. Thus such a biological model may elucidate that cancer causation is not solely due to genetic determinism but also significantly relies on lifestyle of the individual. (+info)
Imaging or imagining? A neuroethics challenge informed by genetics.
From a twenty-first century partnership between bioethics and neuroscience, the modern field of neuroethics is emerging, and technologies enabling functional neuroimaging with unprecedented sensitivity have brought new ethical, social and legal issues to the forefront. Some issues, akin to those surrounding modern genetics, raise critical questions regarding prediction of disease, privacy and identity. However, with new and still-evolving insights into our neurobiology and previously unquantifiable features of profoundly personal behaviors such as social attitude, value and moral agency, the difficulty of carefully and properly interpreting the relationship between brain findings and our own self-concept is unprecedented. Therefore, while the ethics of genetics provides a legitimate starting point--even a backbone--for tackling ethical issues in neuroimaging, they do not suffice. Drawing on recent neuroimaging findings and their plausible real-world applications, we argue that interpretation of neuroimaging data is a key epistemological and ethical challenge. This challenge is two-fold. First, at the scientific level, the sheer complexity of neuroscience research poses challenges for integration of knowledge and meaningful interpretation of data. Second, at the social and cultural level, we find that interpretations of imaging studies are bound by cultural and anthropological frameworks. In particular, the introduction of concepts of self and personhood in neuroimaging illustrates the interaction of interpretation levels and is a major reason why ethical reflection on genetics will only partially help settle neuroethical issues. Indeed, ethical interpretation of such findings will necessitate not only traditional bioethical input but also a wider perspective on the construction of scientific knowledge. (+info)