Is Gene Therapy a Form of Eugenics

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Jeffrey White
Professor Doherty
SO209
28th March, 2013
Is Gene Therapy a Form of Eugenics?
In his article Is Gene Therapy a Form of Eugenics, John Harris discusses the concept of Eugenics when it comes to using Gene Therapy. Harris defines Eugenics as adapting to the production of “fine” offspring, or artificially producing offspring to fit certain criteria. He stresses on how this concept should be achieved. His main argument is that we should be in favor of Eugenics when it comes to potentially saving a child from living a potential disabled life. Harris believes that his view is not wrong, but believes that it is a matter of indifference whether we call it Eugenics or not. Harris argues that Gene Therapy is ethically sound, and using Eugenics can save lives. Harris notes problems when discussing the idea of using Eugenics. First, he notes that we do not fully understand the objective of producing “fine children.” Second, we do not understand the definition of “fine” and notes the difference between what an offspring can be, and what an offspring normally is. He poses a question where he argues what the difference between removing and repairing dysfunctions is, compared to using measures to enhance the functions of a potential offspring (Eugenics) He poses a second question where he asks if Gene Therapy in general is morally acceptable. In order to look at this question Harris uses the example of women in I.V.F clinics who are considering embryo implantation. In this example Harris asks if it is morally wrong for a woman to pick the potential embryos that do not have a disabled genetic constitution. To support his argument of Eugenics Harris explains that if a woman does not choose the embryo with a disabled genetic constitution then she is saving a child from a physical or mental condition that could harm the child in the future. Harris wants to express that we all have a rational preference not to live a life where we have a disability. He sees...
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