Thursday, May 26, 2005

Cascio, Hughes, Naam and Garreau do Human Changing at World Changing

IEET Fellow Jamais Cascio conducted, and has now published, WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: Human Changinga lengthy interview with IEET Director James Hughes, IEET Fellow Ramez Naam and author Joel Garreau about their books on human enhancement technologies, Hughes' Citizen Cyborg, Ramez' More Than Human: Embracing the Promise of Biological Enhancement, and Garreau's Radical Evolution: The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies -- And What It Means To Be Human.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal Tackles Genetics Justice

Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, Volume 15, 2005 - Table of Contents

Special Issue: Justice and Genetic Enhancement

Guest Editor: Ronald M. Green


Lindsay, Ronald A. (Ronald Alan) Enhancements and Justice: Problems in Determining the Requirements of Justice in a Genetically Transformed Society

Abstract: There is a concern that genetic engineering will exacerbate existing social divisions and inequalities, especially if only the wealthy can afford genetic enhancements. Accordingly, many argue that justice requires the imposition of constraints on genetic engineering. However, it would be unwise to decide at this time what limits should be imposed in the future. Decision makers currently lack both the theoretical tools and the factual foundation for making sound judgments about the requirements of justice in a genetically transformed society. Moreover, focusing on the uncertain inequities of the future may result in failure to give priority to more pressing inequities of the present. Especially in a country that recently has enacted tax legislation that will widen existing wealth disparities, concern about the distant threat of a genetic aristocracy appears misplaced.

Allhoff, Fritz. Germ-Line Genetic Enhancement and Rawlsian Primary Goods

Abstract: Genetic interventions raise a host of moral issues and, of its various species, germ-line genetic enhancement is the most morally contentious. This paper surveys various arguments against germ-line enhancement and attempts to demonstrate their inadequacies. A positive argument is advanced in favor of certain forms of germ-line enhancements, which holds that they are morally permissible if and only if they augment Rawlsian primary goods, either directly or by facilitating their acquisition.

Loftis, J. Robert. Germ-Line Enhancement of Humans and Nonhumans

Abstract: The current difference in attitude toward germ-line enhancement in humans and nonhumans is unjustified. Society should be more cautious in modifying the genes of nonhumans and more bold in thinking about modifying our own genome. I identify four classes of arguments pertaining to germ-line enhancement: safety arguments, justice arguments, trust arguments, and naturalness arguments. The first three types are compelling, but do not distinguish between human and nonhuman cases. The final class of argument would justify a distinction between human and nonhuman germ-line enhancement; however, this type of argument fails and, therefore, the discrepancy in attitude toward human and nonhuman germ-line enhancement is unjustified.

Mehlman, Maxwell J. Genetic Enhancement: Plan Now to Act Later

Abstract: All three main articles in the issues of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal endorse the view that genetic enhancement should be permitted, including human germ-line genetic enhancement. However, unregulated, wealth-based access to genetic enhancement in general, and germ-line enhancement in particular, would create intolerable risks for society. Although there are a number of practical problems raised by proposals to regulate or restrict access to genetic enhancement, which will make it difficult if not impossible to muster support for any effective restrictions until we begin to experience the societal problems that genetic enhancement will create, it is important to consider now what restrictions would be appropriate, how they would be imposed, and what changes would be needed in existing laws and institutions to facilitate them. Without this type of groundwork, there is no way society will be in a position to act in time.

Mwase, Isaac M. T. Genetic Enhancement and the Fate of the Worse Off

Abstract: When reflecting on arguments in the debate about genetic technologies, decision makers must try to be empathetic to those who are worse off. Disparities in health and health care in the U.S. pale when global facts are considered. Although U.S. citizens ought to be concerned about the worse off in the U.S., such concern ultimately must be balanced against the urgent imperative to address the plight of those in poor countries. It is a matter of fairness that care and concern be directed to those who are truly worse off in global terms.

Farrelly, Colin Patrick. Justice in the Genetically Transformed Society

Abstract: This paper explores some of the challenges raised by human genetic interventions for debates about distributive justice, focusing on the challenges that face prioritarian theories of justice and their relation to the argument advanced by Ronald Lindsay elsewhere in this issue of the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal. Also examined are the implications of germ-line genetic enhancements for intergenerational justice, and an argument is given against Fritz Allhoff's conclusion, found in this issue as well, that such enhancements are morally permissible if and only if they augment primary goods.

Green, Ronald Michael. Last Word: Imagining the Future

Abstract: H. G. Wells warned, in 1895, not to allow economic injustices to become to so acute that they ultimately transform human biology. Wells's warning is all the more pertinent today as society contemplates the use of biotechnologies to manipulate or "enhance" the human genome.