Total Posts:9|Showing Posts:1-9
Jump to topic:

Ethics of bio-engineering children

slo1
Posts: 4,324
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/28/2014 7:10:01 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
http://www.washingtonpost.com...

The provocative notion of genetically modified babies met the very real world of federal regulation Tuesday, as a government advisory committee began debating a new technique that combines DNA from three people to create embryos free of certain inherited diseases.

The two-day meeting of the Food and Drug Administration panel is focused on a procedure that scientists think could help women who carry DNA mutations for conditions such as blindness and epilepsy. The process would let them have children without passing on those defects.

The debate over whether the technique " nicknamed "three-parent IVF" " should be allowed to proceed to human tests underscores how quickly the science of reproductive medicine is evolving. Scientists argue that this technology, like cloning and embryonic stem cell research, has huge potential to help people. But it is also highly sensitive, touching ethical and political nerves.


.......
slo1
Posts: 4,324
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/28/2014 7:14:09 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Why isn't this the same as opening a stomach cavity and cutting out an infected appendix?
Human's have the intelligence to directly manipulate their flesh. Why not use it to save a life or eliminate disease?
Disquisition
Posts: 391
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/28/2014 9:04:46 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/28/2014 7:14:09 PM, slo1 wrote:
Why isn't this the same as opening a stomach cavity and cutting out an infected appendix?
Human's have the intelligence to directly manipulate their flesh. Why not use it to save a life or eliminate disease?

Well if we can dictate if a child will have a inherited disease, then it wouldn't be too broad of a lead to assume that we can manipulate other genes such as height, strength and intelligence etc... in the near future.

And here lies the problem, to what degree is it acceptable to design your baby anyway you desire. Even if you don't agree that the fetus has rights, once he/she grows up and gains these "inalienable rights," maybe being dissatisfied with what their parent(s) have done, then you have another set of issues.

So when is the line drawn at which you are overstepping your child's rights. But of course I do see the argument were the inherited disease is most definitely fatal, however it's a slippery slope with genetic engineering that will probably lead to eugenics.
Sswdwm
Posts: 1,398
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
2/28/2014 9:16:41 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/28/2014 9:04:46 PM, Disquisition wrote:
At 2/28/2014 7:14:09 PM, slo1 wrote:
Why isn't this the same as opening a stomach cavity and cutting out an infected appendix?
Human's have the intelligence to directly manipulate their flesh. Why not use it to save a life or eliminate disease?

Well if we can dictate if a child will have a inherited disease, then it wouldn't be too broad of a lead to assume that we can manipulate other genes such as height, strength and intelligence etc... in the near future.

And here lies the problem, to what degree is it acceptable to design your baby anyway you desire. Even if you don't agree that the fetus has rights, once he/she grows up and gains these "inalienable rights," maybe being dissatisfied with what their parent(s) have done, then you have another set of issues.

So when is the line drawn at which you are overstepping your child's rights. But of course I do see the argument were the inherited disease is most definitely fatal, however it's a slippery slope with genetic engineering that will probably lead to eugenics.

I don't have a firm ethical opinion on this yet. But it is perfectly conceivable that in the near future (within next 200 years) we will literally be able to design bodies and phenotypes with a good enough predictive power on how the genome is expressed. It is conceivable that you could literally build a child with four eyes, four arms and super-human athleticism/intelligence.

The obvious immediate issue is the effect of competition and proliferation.

I'll give more thought to this when I sleep and try and come up with something more solid in the morning, I think the ethical considerations need to go far beyond what we are currently capable of in bio-engineering today however, I will stand behind that much.
Resolved: the Zombie Apocalypse Will Happen
http://www.debate.org...

The most basic living cell was Intelligently Designed:
http://www.debate.org...

God most likely exists:
http://www.debate.org...
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
3/1/2014 11:45:03 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 2/28/2014 9:04:46 PM, Disquisition wrote:
At 2/28/2014 7:14:09 PM, slo1 wrote:
Why isn't this the same as opening a stomach cavity and cutting out an infected appendix?
Human's have the intelligence to directly manipulate their flesh. Why not use it to save a life or eliminate disease?

Well if we can dictate if a child will have a inherited disease, then it wouldn't be too broad of a lead to assume that we can manipulate other genes such as height, strength and intelligence etc... in the near future.

And here lies the problem, to what degree is it acceptable to design your baby anyway you desire. Even if you don't agree that the fetus has rights, once he/she grows up and gains these "inalienable rights," maybe being dissatisfied with what their parent(s) have done, then you have another set of issues.

This is a slippery slope argument. If we allow people to have shotguns, then we are on our way to allowing flame throwers and rocket propelled grenades. I think the answer is that all slopes are slippery. There is no alternative to considering every potential advance on a case-by-case basis.

If there is a method to prevent horrible birth defects, then we are obliged to use it. If there is a method to gender-select babies, and there is (as in China and India) then we are obliged to oppose it. No easy outs from a faulty general principle.

So when is the line drawn at which you are overstepping your child's rights. But of course I do see the argument were the inherited disease is most definitely fatal, however it's a slippery slope with genetic engineering that will probably lead to eugenics.
slo1
Posts: 4,324
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
3/1/2014 4:14:59 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 3/1/2014 11:45:03 AM, RoyLatham wrote:
At 2/28/2014 9:04:46 PM, Disquisition wrote:
At 2/28/2014 7:14:09 PM, slo1 wrote:
Why isn't this the same as opening a stomach cavity and cutting out an infected appendix?
Human's have the intelligence to directly manipulate their flesh. Why not use it to save a life or eliminate disease?

Well if we can dictate if a child will have a inherited disease, then it wouldn't be too broad of a lead to assume that we can manipulate other genes such as height, strength and intelligence etc... in the near future.

And here lies the problem, to what degree is it acceptable to design your baby anyway you desire. Even if you don't agree that the fetus has rights, once he/she grows up and gains these "inalienable rights," maybe being dissatisfied with what their parent(s) have done, then you have another set of issues.

This is a slippery slope argument. If we allow people to have shotguns, then we are on our way to allowing flame throwers and rocket propelled grenades. I think the answer is that all slopes are slippery. There is no alternative to considering every potential advance on a case-by-case basis.

If there is a method to prevent horrible birth defects, then we are obliged to use it. If there is a method to gender-select babies, and there is (as in China and India) then we are obliged to oppose it. No easy outs from a faulty general principle.

So when is the line drawn at which you are overstepping your child's rights. But of course I do see the argument were the inherited disease is most definitely fatal, however it's a slippery slope with genetic engineering that will probably lead to eugenics.

I like the direct common sense approach, however it is never that easy.

I understand why selecting gender over another due to a societal pressure which favors a patriarchal society is wrong, but why would it be wrong if a person really wanted a girl and could get one? One has a choice when adopting. Why is that inheritance OK while when doing it by combining DNA is not OK?

What about intelligence? Altering genetics to alter intelligence and cognitive ability, especially knowing that it could be expensive and out of reach for lower economic classes?
RoyLatham
Posts: 4,488
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
3/1/2014 5:27:57 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 3/1/2014 4:14:59 PM, slo1 wrote:
I like the direct common sense approach, however it is never that easy.

I understand why selecting gender over another due to a societal pressure which favors a patriarchal society is wrong, but why would it be wrong if a person really wanted a girl and could get one? One has a choice when adopting. Why is that inheritance OK while when doing it by combining DNA is not OK?

I didn't say it was easy. I said that the problem is not overcome by making a simple rule that pretends to overcome the problem but really does not.

India and China both have problems from having a surplus of males. that gives the state a compelling interest in making the choice. If there is no compelling interest of the society, then it ought ot be left to the parents. For example, what is the compelling interest of the state that requires having more children with severe birth defects?

What about intelligence? Altering genetics to alter intelligence and cognitive ability, especially knowing that it could be expensive and out of reach for lower economic classes?

I think you must argue a compelling interest of the State in keeping intelligence from rising, otherwise the State should stay out of it. The compelling interest you suggest is to keep everyone equal. That's like the compelling interest in keeping everyone poor so that there will be no success to be envied. That's bogus.

I think there are compelling interests that can be argued. For example, undisclosed risks in unproven procedures, unanticipated side effects (say possibly increasing bipolar affliction along with intelligence), and outright fraud against the public. But I think each case must be argued on it's merits.
bluesteel
Posts: 12,301
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
3/1/2014 5:32:28 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
The notion that you wouldn't bio-engineer a child to prevent Downs is - to me - unethical itself. It's such a pointless and easily curable disease, if you get the technology right. It would be like opposing a cancer treatment because you don't really like it's methodology (like the use of adult stem cells because that somehow contravenes God's will or you think, wrongly, that they are somehow like fetal stem cells).

However, it seems legitimate to want to avoid the disutopian society of GATTACCA. However, I saw an article recently (in Science, I think) that the level of genetic engineering to produce smarter children will likely never be feasible, either scientifically or economically because "smartness" is affected by too many different genetic regions. It is more likely that 100 eggs would be fertilized and genetic testing could confirm which one had the most desirable genes (on indicators of smartness and other metrics). But altering a single egg genetically to get an "ideal human" will likely never be possible, at least not in the near-to-semi distant future.
You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into - Jonathan Swift (paraphrase)
whiteflame
Posts: 1,378
Add as Friend
Challenge to a Debate
Send a Message
3/6/2014 7:04:13 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
I don't think it's an easy question to answer as to whether bioengineering children will be net beneficial or net harmful. The mentality that we can select for any and all genetic traits we wish to have in our future children is both a happy and disturbing outcome for this research, particularly when we look at things that cannot be easily classed as disease. It incites thoughts about eugenics, though in this case, the sorts of selection we would engage in would occur much earlier than that tried by the Nazis.

That's not to say that I'm against it. I would err against caution on this, as I feel that the medical benefits this kind of research presents are just too good to slow it down. The prospect of ending Huntington's disease, Downs syndrome, VCFS, DiGeorge syndrome, Tay Sachs, sickle-cell anemia, and all manner of other genetic disorders is so incredible it should not go unnoticed, no matter our ethical concerns. In this, I agree with RoyLatham that it must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, since it's difficult to assess on a higher level.

On the other hand, I find myself uncertain of just how dramatic the harms are because, in all honesty, I have trouble understanding just how deeply they can go. The blind and deaf communities would almost certainly be reduced in size, and that's something that many feel would be damaging. I can see the harms of selecting against things like sex or gender identity.

Still, my stance remains the same. The reality is that people can control the sex of their child through abortion or abandonment, and in many cases, they do. I'd say it is a lesser harm to be able to control it at an earlier stage. Whether that is reason enough is somewhat difficult to assess, but it does make the problem nonunique. Perhaps the problem is more with societal perceptions of what should be favored, rather than the technology we have to affect that favoritism. Oh well, food for thought.