Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Oct 22 Kass - Ch 4 (Age of Genetic Technology Arrives); McGee – Ch 2 (Hope for Genetic Cures)

I really like Kass’ statement on page 133; “It turns out that even the more modest biogenetic engineers, whether they know it or not, are in the immortality business, proceeding on the basis of a quasi-religious faith that all innovation is by definition progress, no matter what is sacrificed to attain it.” I have mentioned before that I feel we are unduly striving to prolong life on earth when we should perhaps exert efforts elsewhere. If we find a cure to cancer, we will undoubtedly find some new malady killing us in turn. Humans are not meant to live forever here on earth. Biogenetic engineers are looking for ways to genetically alter individuals making them more fit for their environments and therefore prolonging their lives. While this would indeed be a feat, we must pause to ask whether it is truly a good idea to progress in such a manner or if the short-term benefits might be insignificant compared to the long-term effects of permanently altering a genetic sequence. One of the most controversial long-term possibilities is for genetics to spiral from recognizing and treating particular diseases to removing or repairing the genes for potential diseases or else destroying fetuses with ‘bad’ genes. As McGee points out on page 34, “proactiveness with genetic disease is not the same as maintaining a balanced diet. It is interventionist medicine, good old repair, only extended to diseases you do not yet have.” We have to keep technological advancement in check and question whether we should proceed for the sake of science or hold off on moral grounds. As Kass says on page 135, “everything depends on whether the technological disposition is allowed to proceed to its self-augmenting limits, or whether it can be restricted and brought under intellectual, spiritual, moral and political rule.” If we can manage to cautiously proceed with genetics technology, constantly questioning the ethical dilemmas of each advancement, I think we stand to benefit humanity while limiting potential for moral disaster.

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