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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Genetic Essentialisim and Embroy Identitiy.

This is a difficult position to defend, even from a standpoint to embryonic identity. However this situation only worsens when we begin to consider things other than embryo’s. It seems difficult to suggest that a persons identity is constituted by his genome and whenever there is a mutation or alteration in it occurs then his identity changes. This seems strange, if this was the case then our identity would change regularly, I would not be the same person on a regular basis. Admittedly Zohars attempts to limit his claims to embryo’s but even here there appears to be problems. Yes he is right in that if a small portion of genetic material is changed or mutated from one moment to the next with and embryo that the embryo’s are no longer strictly identical, in the sense that everything about them is the same. Almost everything about them is identical to what it was previously, they are continuous spatio-temporally and are still perform the same functions as they did previously.As with persons changes, even some quite radical changes, such as the loss of limbs or sight do not by themselves change a persons identity from what it was previously.

Genetic Essentialisim!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There is no history or continuity that we can point to with respect to embryo’s who thinks that this conception “can be of little help in determining embryonic identity through genetic alteration.” He therefore seeks to find an alternative viewpoint on identity that he can apply to the issue of embryonic identity. To begin this search Zohar considers the tale of the ship of Theseus his contention that “what primarily characterizes this ship is the particulars of how it runs, how it specifically functions as a ship." His claim is that the fact that we consider the ship to be the same ship despite the replacement of parts of it “is grounded in the primacy of functional organization.”He then goes on to suggest that if the ship was a self constructing unit with its own built in blueprints, then these blueprints would be central to its identity. This he claims is similar genetic makeup; “is not genetic makeup such an enhanced set of blueprints.”He does however acknowledge that in postnatal humans that while geneotype is an important part of a persons identity it is not the only one. This is not the case he claims with embryo’s “at the embryonic stage, all we have to go by is the genotype. If there is any sense at all in which considering the embryo’s existence to be the beginning (or: origin) of a particular human life, then it surely comes down to the fact that once the genotype has been specified, personal identity has been significantly determined.”It is Zohars claim that what is the important and relevant factor for embryonic identity is a persons genome.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Human Clonning and "The Matter of Whiteness"

The article "The Matter of Whiteness" by Richard Dyer, brings up some very important points about the way we treat the topic of race. It is true that it is always in play with how we think and how we make certain decisions. Do I think it is right? Absolutely not. I do believe that to a certain extent, we can't help it. As humans, we naturally categorize people and make judgements, not to be mean, but to better understand our surroundings. So in essence, everyone is a little bit racist. However, the line is drawn at saying negative comments or letting the aspect of race to be a deterent on decisions. One claim that I absolutely disagree with in this article is that being white means that we are non-raced. I can not count how many times I've been called a "white girl" or a white women. Just because that is not as frequent of an occurence in our society doesn't mean that it doesn't happen. Being a racist is not just a white thing. In my personal experience, I have been judged and spoke badly of for my color than I have ever done to a person of a different race. I do admit that the terms like "black" are used to describe people and I am not innocent of refering to people like that.

Genetic Engineering can cope with diversity...

Personally, I think the content in this article is highly controversial and it will be something that is argued about for decades. Even as the science becomes available, I do not think that it will be accepted. Both of the therapies discussed in the article are, in my opinion, opening a can of worms. The germ line therapy is the one that I believe has more ramifications. The idea is that you can essentially alter all of the genetic “errors” in an unborn child. The problem is who will decide what the errors really are. Some will view the errors as the serious and life threatening diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Down syndrome. What about the people that view a certain race as a genetic error? Are we really going to allow the elimination of a race because someone views it as an error? Another part of the article that really struck a nerve was the decision of the parents to alter their unborn child. The fact that if they decide not to alter their child it would be considered as child abuse or as a heinous crime really bothers me. It is a parent’s decision whether or not to change their child.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Genetic engineering and Human Clonning


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hypothermia particularly in severe cases is rightly considered a malady in Bio Technology

An important part of the definition offered by Gert is that for a condition to be considered a malady there must be an absence of an external distinct sustaining cause. There must not be a cause that is linked to the condition in such a way that the harm or evil associated with the condition is only present when the cause is and if the cause is removed then so too is the harm or evil associated with the condition. For a condition to count as a malady, the harm caused by the condition must still be present even if the cause of the condition is removed. For example, suppose I apply an electrical current to you cause to pain without doing any actual damage to you either mentally or physically. Furthermore this pain does not remain after the removal of the current. Even though while I was administering the current you would be suffering pain, which as has been shown is a harm or evil, which should be avoided, you could not be said to be suffering from a malady. For as soon as I removed the current, the pain would also cease. The harmful condition pain, would have a distinct sustaining cause, that of the electricity that I am passing through your body. If, however, by passing an electrical current through your body on a number of occasions, I caused a harmful condition, either physical (there was actual damage to parts of your body, such as burn, or organs whose activities were compromised) or mental (a rational fear of being in a room with strangers with electrical cables) that continued after the current stopped, then you could be suffering from a malady. A more problematic example may be that of hypothermia, where it could be suggested that the sustaining cause is intense cold and if that is removed then so is the hypothermia, and so hypothermia does not count as a malady. This however is not entirely correct, unlike in the case of non-harmful electroshock, when a person is removed from intense cold, the condition does not abate immediately. In fact hypothermia may actually cause long-term damage to the person’s body. It is possible therefore that hypothermia particularly in severe cases is rightly considered a malady.

Increased risk of suffering harms and evils associated with the condition...

An analogous situation would be a person who has been infected by AIDS, but has not yet developed symptoms of the condition, that is they are HIV positive. People who are HIV positive are and rightly should be considered to be suffering from a malady, even though they have not developed any symptoms. This is because they are at an increased risk of suffering harms and evils associated with the condition. Another condition that should be considered to be a malady and mirrors the situation of Huntington disease closely is high blood pressure. People are routinely considered to be suffering from a malady if they have high blood pressure. This is at least in part due to the increased risks of developing other conditions, such as heart attack, which will cause them considerable suffering. It is clear that if we consider a person who is HIV positive or someone who has high blood pressure to be suffering from a malady, then a person who has the gene for Huntington disease should also be considered to have a malady: a genetic malady. This being the case, if there were genetic interventions that would stop or greatly reduce the risk of a person with the Huntington gene from developing the condition, which were safe, effective and morally permissible, then the person with the Huntington gene would have a similar call for medical assistance that those persons who are HIV positive or who have high blood pressure have in relation to their respective conditions.

Can rightly be said to be suffering from a genetic malady....

We can also unproblematically classify a large portion of conditions that have a genetic base as not being maladies. If we consider eye colour as an example, the difference between a genetic malady and a characteristic that simply has a genetic basis can clearly be seen. Eye colour does not have a distinct sustaining cause, since it is the result of the genetic makeup of the person in question. However unlike Tay-Sachs or sickle cell anaemia there is neither suffering nor an increased risk of suffering, harm or evil as a result of the colour of a person’s eyes. So, even though eye colouration is something that is determined by genetic makeup, the fact that it does not cause suffering or increased risk of suffering a harm or evil, means that it cannot be defined as a genetic malady.

While the difference between Tay-Sachs and sickle cell anaemia and eye colour in relation to their status as maladies can clearly be seen, the situation is not as clear with other conditions that have a genetic basis. Take, for example, a person who develops Huntington disease. There is no doubt they are suffering from a malady and, as it is caused by the person’s genetic structure it can be classified as a genetic malady. What of the person who through screening in their late teens or early twenties discovers they have the gene that causes Huntington disease? It would appear that we can correctly say that this person is suffering from a genetic malady. This is because a person with the Huntington’s gene has a far greater risk of developing the disease and therefore suffering the harms and evils associated with it than does the general population. There is also no distinct sustaining cause of the suffering it results from his or her genetic makeup. Therefore it is the case that someone who has the gene for Huntington disease but has not yet developed the disease can rightly be said to be suffering from a genetic malady.

What is a Genetic maladies...

There are a number of conditions it seems fairly unproblematic to classify as being genetic maladies; such as Tay-Sachs disease or sickle cell anaemia. These conditions are already considered to be maladies and their occurrence is directly related to the person’s genetic makeup. Someone with a disease such as Tay-Sachs or sickle cell anaemia will suffer considerable harms or evils, the harm is not a result of the person’s rational beliefs or desires and there is not distinct external sustaining cause. It is the internal genetic makeup of the person that is the cause of the disease; therefore the person has a malady, a genetic malady.

A little to stop individuals undergoing genetic interventions...

Before moving on to this however, it is necessary to point out that with respect to enhancements, if our technology developed in such a way as to allow somatic cell interventions that could be contained within the recipient with a high degree of certainty, then there would be little to stop individuals undergoing genetic interventions that would otherwise by considered unacceptable. There is a caveat on this suggestion however, and that is that in most cases interventions that were of a radical nature, say growing extra arms or having skin that changed colour at varying intervals would and should not be paid for out of the public purse. Anyone who wanted an intervention that was of this nature would have to be willing to pay for the procedures themselves. Public funding for genetic interventions should in my view whether or not they are somatic or germ-line be restricted to those interventions that fall within the boundary of treatment and those that are publicly acceptable forms of enhancement. This position will be further discussed later when the issues of social justice and the effects of germ-line interventions are considered.

acceptable and unacceptable forms of enhancement of Bio Technology...

The problem when considering drawing a distinction between acceptable and unacceptable forms of enhancement is that of justification, given the plurality of views about what constitutes the good life and how one can best achieve this. There will lead to significant differences in what particular people consider to be acceptable forms of enhancement. Some might think that enhancements are acceptable are those that improve a person’s mental faculties, but find physical improvements to muscle size, strength, and flexibility are unacceptable, because the latter are not part of their conception of the good life. Another person may believe completely the opposite to be the case. For this reason, we need to develop a method of determining the moral acceptability that allows for individual conceptions of the good life to be encompassed, while protecting the rights of individuals that will be affected by these enhancements. This is of particular importance if these enhancements take the form of germ-line interventions aimed at passing on specific characteristics to future offspring who are also entitled to for their own views of what they choose to pursue in their lives