Sunday, June 14, 2009

Values that affect decision making

The idea of genetically engineered babies is a highly controversial issue and the value system that undermines the decision making process consists of many higher values. Higher values are values which influence wider causes, such as freedom, democracy and liberty, as compared to lower values which influences more individual causes, such as efficiency. Government bodies, research institutions and couples contemplating PGD should take these values into consideration before creating a designer baby.

The concept of human rights is extremely relevant in this case. In today’s competitive society, the responsibility to give birth a fittest possible child also comes under the responsibility of the parents. However, in this bid to conceive the ‘perfect child’, parents also have to understand not to tinker with their child’s freedom of life. Perfect is highly subjective. What the parents view as perfect traits may not necessarily be what the child defines as perfect, and by forcing the child to accept and live with whatever his parents chose for him, his human rights have indirectly been violated. This is akin to creating a character in a video game; something which can be manipulated to suit the gamers’ needs. If we agree to democracy, that all humans have equal rights, then we should not be manipulating another human being even before birth. Philosopher Francis Fukuyama once said that genetic enhancements may change our descendants to such an extent that they lose their humanity. Perhaps, the price for one’s super intelligence may be the experiences that give human lives meaning. There isn’t a specific right and wrong in this situation. The outcome would be whether the parents choose to value democracy and liberty or their so-called perfect traits.

Decision making should be on a case by case basis, and overseen by a responsible government body. This is important because there are 2 main motivations for creating a designer baby, therapy and enhancement, which prompts a question: Is there a moral distinction between treating or preventing diseases and enhancing traits? Some feel that therapy is justifiable but not enhancement. The problem is that it is difficult to make the therapy–enhancement distinction principled. It is hard to find definitions of disease suitable to serve as a moral guideline for genetic technologies. For example, suppose we were to discover that homosexuality was a consequence of malfunction in the part of the brain responsible for sexual attraction. Should this rather obscure fact about biological functioning count more than the fact that many homosexual people seem to be living excellent lives? Hence, integrity and responsibility should be practiced on the side of research institutions and government bodies, to ensure that the insertion of additional genes, if needed, is towards a good cause and not just a convenient option for parents seeking to produce a perfect offspring or an extra privilege exclusive to the rich and powerful.

Also, authorities have to practice responsible regulation to ensure that there would not be an emergence of a superior race because of the dominant and more affluent first world nations. There might be some developments such as extra-fast athleticism, super-durable sportsmen, and extra-strong anti-social elements. In addition, there is a possibility that, those who cannot afford to have the genetically modified babies will continue to produce the ‘normal’ ones, leading to a divided society based on some new factor. If not controlled, the above could lead to many social problems like exploitation.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home