Oxford Professor: Designer Babies or Eugenics?
Professor Julian Savulescu said that creating so-called designer babies could be considered a "moral obligation" as it makes them grow up into "ethically better children".
The expert in practical ethics said that we should actively give parents the choice to screen out personality flaws in their children as it meant they were then less likely to "harm themselves and others".
How does genetic engineering make babies become ‘ethically better children’? I must confess that my knowledge of genetics is fairly limited but I still fail to see the link between genetic screening and moral values.
In the 1930’s Eugenics was very much accepted as a way of getting ‘better human beings’, a sort of mythical Atlantis kind of individuals. I accept the idea that getting rid of illnesses is a desirable objective but what is proposed seems to be much more than that. We are not only talking about genetic engineering. We are talking about social engineering using genetics and somehow altering the criteria of natural selection. Sooner than later the question will rise: what to do with those who do not fit in following certain stringent criteria?
I have seen so many movies involving futuristic societies in which perfection suddenly becomes a recipe for disaster that I cannot help thinking that the so-called experts are telling us only what they want us to know. What happened in the 1930s and 1940s is not reassuring. The quest for physical perfection had little to do with ethics and given Human Nature there is always the risk that we will end up getting more than we bargain for.
We usually fight against illnesses using vaccines, chemical agents, radiotherapy and surgery. The next stage is to replace tissues and organs. The third stage is to modify the human genetic pool so that vaccines, chemical agents, radiotherapy and surgery become basically redundant. Given what we know, practically every method produces unwanted effects - also called secondary effects. Will the new genetic techniques generate some sort of artificial mutations?