Advertisement

Towards a Natural Law Critique of Genetic Engineering

  • David S. Oderberg

Abstract

One of the major factors affecting contemporary academic debate about biotechnology in general, and genetic engineering in particular, is that virtually all participants approach the issues from the standpoint of consequentialist moral theory. Now consequentialism takes many forms, especially when it comes to the question of just what it is that rational agents should be seeking to maximise. We can, however, abstract from these variations and note that as far as biotechnology is concerned, all consequentialists frame the terms of the debate around the key question of what harms or benefits a given technique, practice or method is likely to bring about.

Keywords

Genetic Engineering Genetic Engineer Moral Theory Moral Truth Human Good 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    For a collection of papers defending this view of consequentialism, see D. S. Oderberg and J. A. Laing (eds.) (1997) Human Lives: Critical Essays on Consequentialist Bioethics (Basingstoke: Macmillan).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    P. Singer and Deane Wells (1984) The Reproduction Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press), pp. 36–41.Google Scholar
  3. 13.
    For a recent critique, see C. J. Martin (2004) ‘The Fact/Value Distinction’, in D. S. Oderberg and T. Chappell (eds.), Human Values: New Essays on Ethics and Natural Law (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan), pp. 52–69. See also Oderberg, Moral Theory, pp. 9–15.Google Scholar
  4. 14.
    M. J. Reiss and R. Straughan (1996) Improving Nature? The Science and Ethics of Genetic Engineering (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), p. 63.Google Scholar
  5. 15.
    J. Cottingham (2004), ‘“Our Natural Guide …”: Conscience, “Nature”, and Moral Experience’, in Oderberg and Chappell (eds.), Human Values, pp. 11–31.Google Scholar
  6. 17.
    For more on this, see S. Uniacke (2004) ‘Harming and Wronging: The Importance of Normative Context’, in Oderberg and Laing (eds.), Human Lives, pp. 166–83.Google Scholar
  7. 18.
    For more on this problem, see Jacqueline A. Laing (2004) ‘Innocence and Consequentialism: Inconsistency, Equivocation and Contradiction in the Philosophy of Peter Singer’, in Oderberg and Chappell (eds.), Human Values, pp. 196–224, at pp. 209–12.Google Scholar
  8. 19.
    M. Häyry (1994) ‘Categorical Objections to Genetic Engineering — A Critique’, in A. Dyson and J. Harris (eds.), Ethics and Biotechnology (London: Routledge), pp. 202–15, at p. 202.Google Scholar
  9. 22.
    U. Wessels (1994) ‘Genetic Engineering and Ethics in Germany’, in Dyson and Harris (eds.), Ethics and Biotechnology, pp. 230–58.Google Scholar
  10. 26.
    See, for instance, J. Finnis (1980) Natural Law and Natural Rights (Oxford: Clarendon Press)Google Scholar
  11. 26.
    T. Chappell (1998) Understanding Human Goods (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press)Google Scholar
  12. 26.
    M. Murphy (2001) Natural Law and Practical Rationality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)Google Scholar
  13. 26.
    Alfonso-Gómez-Lobo (2002) Morality and the Human Goods (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press) see also Oderberg, Moral Theory, ch. 2, and (2004) ‘The Structure and Content of the Good’, in Oderberg and Chappell (eds.), Human Values, pp. 127–65.Google Scholar
  14. 31.
    See, for example, Joanna Rose (1999) ‘The Response of an Adult Donor Insemination Offspring to the Article “The Psychology of Assisted Reproduction — or Psychology Assisting its Reproduction?”’, Australian Psychologist, 34, p. 220CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 31.
    Christine Whipp (1998) ‘The Legacy of Deceit: a Donor Offspring’s Perspective on Secrecy in Donor Assisted Conception’, in Eric Blyth, Marilyn Crawshaw and Jennifer Speirs (eds.), Truth and the Child 10 Years On: Information Exchange in Donor Assisted Conception (Birmingham: British Association of Social Workers). For further information, see the notes in Laing and Oderberg, ‘Artificial Reproduction’.Google Scholar
  16. 32.
    M. Warnock (2003) ‘What is Natural? And Should We Care?’, Philosophy, 78, pp. 445–59, at pp. 457–8. Quotations are from these pages.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 36.
    For example, Ole Schou is chief of Danish sperm bank, Cryos International Sperm Bank Ltd: ‘Cyros dominates the Scandinavian market from its headquarters in Aarhus, Denmark. In the early 1990s, the country began looking abroad for ways to expand its business and now exports to 25 countries, including Australia, Eastern Europe, and the US. It market three grades of sperm, including “Extra” grade, which contains twice as many sperm as the standard grade and exhibits the highest levels of motility, a measure of sperm’s ability to reach its target’ (Pascal Zachary, Wall Street Journal, 6 January 2000).Google Scholar
  18. 38.
    For emerging evidence of the harm caused by IVF, see M. Hansen, J. J. Kurinczuk et al. (2002) ‘The Risk of Major Birth Defects after Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection and In Vitro Fertilization’, New England Journal of Medicine, 346, pp. 725–30. This study found that IVF offspring have twice as high a risk of a major (e.g. chromosomal or musculoskeletal) birth defect as naturally conceived infants.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 39.
    See Oderberg, Moral Theory, ch. 3; T. Chappell (2002) ‘Two Distinctions that Do Make a Difference: The Action/Omission Distinction and the Principle of Double Effect’, Philosophy, 77, pp. 211–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 39.
    M. Murphy (2004) ‘Intention, Foresight, and Success’, in Oderberg and Chappell (eds.), Human Values, pp. 252–68.Google Scholar
  21. 1.
    S. R. L. Clark (2004) ‘Natural Integrity and Biotechnology’, in Oderberg and Chappell (eds.), Human Values, pp. 58–76, at p. 67.Google Scholar
  22. 45.
    See further D. S. Oderberg (2000) Applied Ethics (Oxford: Blackwell), ch. 3.Google Scholar
  23. 48.
    J. Harris (1992) Wonderwoman and Superman: The Ethics of Human Biotechnology (Oxford: Oxford University Press), p. 160.Google Scholar
  24. 49.
    In September 1997, the World Health Organisation’s Regional Committee for the Western Pacific issued a report claiming that ‘more than 50 million women were estimated to be “missing” in China because of the institutionalized killing and neglect of girls due to Beijing’s population control program that limits parents to one child’ (see Joseph Farah (1997) ‘Cover-up of China’s Gendercide’, Western Journalism Center/Free Republic, 29 September); www/freerepublican.com/forum/98896.htm Accessed 23 May 2005. A similar story is true for India.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David S. Oderberg 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • David S. Oderberg

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations