A Kantian Ethical Analysis of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis
Kant was a deontologist. This means that he made ethical decisions by considering the nature of the act itself, not its consequences. Kant would not be interested in the benefits of genetic engineering, but in the sorts of actions that genetic engineering involved. For example, genetically modifying crops could allow us to produce cheap vaccines for less-economically developed countries; crops resilient to frost, salt, acidity in soil etc.; to increase yield and therefore reduce damage to the environment. A good example would be Golden Rice, genetically modified to include beta carotene. As part of the staple diet of the malnourished, this could prevent blindness in 500,000 who have little Vitamin A in their diet, as well as helping half a billion who are malnourished. Kant does not think that these benefits make genetic modification morally justified, as good consequences can result from bad actions. Kant would look at the process involved in creating a genetically modified organism. There does not seem to be anything inherently wrong or irrational in splicing genes, but it would depend on how this was done, and whether this involved human genes.
Therapeutic Cloning is more problematic for Kantians, as this involves creating a cloned embryo. The embryo is never intended to grow into a baby, and would not be considered a Kantian person. However, Kant did not consider children to be persons in the fullest sense, as they do not yet have a developed ability to reason, but he still said they need to be protected as potential persons. President Bush held that embryonic stem cell research was unethical, and would not allow public funding of such research. A bill was passed allowing funding of research on spare embryos produced in IVF, but the President vetoed this. When President Obama came to power he lifted some of the restrictions on stem cell research. President Bush’s position...
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