Tag: enhancement

Blog Posts (59)

July 31, 2015

On the Safety Argument Against Gene Editing

As discussed in an exchange earlier this year on this blog, one of the concerns about editing the human germline is that the risks to the next generation and future generations are not predictable, and the experiments to address those safety concerns cannot be done ethically.  Go here, and to the embedded links, to review.  Recently, Paige Cunningham and Michael Sleasman of the Center for... // Read More »
May 14, 2015

Still More on Gene Editing

Joe Gibes (May 9) and Steve Phillips (May 13) took up the challenge I posted last week: to address whether human germline gene editing, even in a hypothetically-narrow example case, is morally unacceptable in some intrinsic sense, and therefore something that ought never be attempted or, for that matter, pursued in the laboratory.  If you have not read their posts, please do so. To come... // Read More »
May 8, 2015

Gene Editing—Trying to Get Specific

In a comment last week, Mark McQuain pointed out the article “Engineering the Perfect Baby” in the MIT Technology Review.  Freely accessible online, it describes, in non-technical terms, several of the routes that genetic editing may follow.  Perhaps the most explosive:  adult skin cell transformed into an induced pleuripotent stem cell that then is used to give rise to germ cells that are then genetically... // Read More »
April 30, 2015

More on Gene Editing

The recently-public discussion of gene editing has been going on for over a month now.  I have been meaning to try to catch up with some of it.  Tuesday’s post by Courtney Thiele got there first.  This post will attempt to amplify a bit on what Courtney wrote. As Courtney pointed out, the technology involves making selective genetic changes of interest, including, but clearly not... // Read More »
April 29, 2015

When Enhancement Isn’t

Enhancement is weird. It seems objectively obvious what is better and what isn’t. But then context goes and screws everything up.

The New York Times recently featured a debate series entitled Adderall in the Office (h/t James Hughes) in which a few thinkers (including two of my favorite bioethicists Savulescu and Parens) discussed the merits of using A.D.H.D. drugs [...]

April 27, 2015

Unenhanced Thoughts about Neural Enhancement

An April 20th post in the Hastings Center’s “Bioethics Forum” brings attention the recent report by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (PCSBI) entitled, “Gray Matters: Topics at the Intersection of Neuroscience, Ethics, and Society.” Chapter 2, “Cognitive Enhancement and Beyond” is a useful summary of issues surrounding “cognitive enhancement,” and provides a brief overview of three scientific goals: maintaining or improving... // Read More »
April 16, 2015

A Drive-By Shot at the Concept of “Liberal Neutrality”

A couple of writings by Gregory Kaebnick, the editor of the Hastings Center Report, have my attention these days, and I hope to deal with them in my next few posts.  For the moment, I intend to seize on one point he makes in “Engineered Microbes in Industry and Science,” his chapter in a book he co-edited with Thomas Murray, 2013’s Synthetic Biology and Morality. ... // Read More »
April 10, 2015

“Computers Helping Computers Help People Help Computers”

That was how one wag, a fellow undergrad at my college in the late 70’s, rewrote “people making computers to help people,” the “tag line” that IBM was using in its TV commercials at the time.  It got a good laugh.  Indeed, it sounded more accurate than the original. Even more so now, I was reminded last week by an interview on the Fox Business... // Read More »
March 12, 2015

Taking Precautions

A common argument by ethicists concerned about the implications of bleeding-edge biotechnologies is an appeal to what is called the “precautionary principle.”  This appeal is particularly prominent on the European continent.  It attempts to raise concerns about the metaphysical, essential nature of a new technology, as opposed to the more pragmatist (and consequentialist) approach taken in Britain and the U.S.  I suppose that split should... // Read More »
March 6, 2015

“The Natural”

Saying nothing new, but trying to say it in a different way… One response to ethical problems posed by bleeding-edge biotechnologies is to assert that there are some things that ought not be attempted, some boundaries that ought never be transgressed, regardless of the supposed good that may be envisioned.  (I continue to hold that human IVF was one such boundary, but that was definitively... // Read More »