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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

video

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

The second view is that virtually all enhancements are acceptable...

what is required of us is to use genetic interventions to produce the best possible people that can be produced. The first and most obvious objection to this kind of thinking is who decides what counts as the best? Is it something that should be decided on by individuals, for both themselves and their offspring or is it something that should be decided by societies or governments or specialist committees designed for the very purpose of determining what is good? It seems that everyone is entitled to decide for themselves, within certain limits what their conception of the Good Life is and to have the opportunity to live that. The view that not only are all enhancements acceptable but should be pursued goes against that idea, by restricting conceptions of the Good Life to those that fall into a tightly predetermined range. None of these options are without difficulties, including problems such as access to technologies and the possibility of nightmare like eugenic situation developing. The proponent of this sort of viewpoint has a large amount of work to do to convince us that such a Carte Blanc approach to genetic enhances is morally acceptable.

Genetic enhancements which are an opposite extremes....

Before coming to a conclusion about whether or not there are actually any conditions that can be considered to be legitimate targets for enhancement, we need to establish a methodology for determining what would be acceptable. Once we have established this it is then possible for us to assess various claims with respect to the status of conditions or procedures to determine whether they fall within the boundary of acceptable enhancements.
If we begin by considering two viewpoints on genetic enhancements which are an opposite extremes and that are seriously flawed, we will have a starting point from which a more sensible account can be constructed. The first view is that all enhancements are unacceptable. There are a number of problems with this view. The first is that there are some hard borderline cases. Let us for a moment suppose that IQ becomes something, as easy to alter as eye colour, and further that if a person has an IQ of under 60 they are considered to have a malady that should be corrected. In this case a number of problems arise for the advocates of the all enhancements are unacceptable view. Take for example a person who has an IQ of 50. Clearly they fall into the treatment category and should be able to access genetic interventions to correct their condition. What does correction mean in this case? Does it mean that, because enhancements are unacceptable, that the IQ of the person in question can only be raised to the minimum acceptable level; 60? If this is the case then, the value of the procedure as a treatment seems small. If treatments were only meant to bring people up a very minimal level of functionality, then a large number of medical procedures we take for granted today seem to be ruled out by this minimal functionality story, which is an unacceptable conclusion. A procedure as simple as that of setting a broken bone would become problematic under this minimal functionality position as a person with broken arm, but nothing else wrong with them would appear to still be minimally functional. There would appear to be no reason for us to need to properly fix the arm in question because the person would still be able to function reasonably well and probably somewhat more than minimally even if the arm was never attended to and as a result became unusable.

Somatic cell germ-line distinction is a problematic method...

The germ-line distinction is a problematic method of demarcating acceptable from unacceptable genetic interventions I suggest that we should adopt a method of demarcation that grows out of the concept of a malady discussed earlier. The distinction I will be showing to be both useful and justifiable will be one that is based around the treatment/enhancement model, using the definition of a malady for the determination of those interventions that fall into the category of treatments and those that do not. I will also show that on the enhancement side of the equation, not all enhancements should be treated as having the same morally problematic status. I will show that the distinction should in fact be a three part one with lines being drawn between treatments, acceptable enhancements, and unacceptable enhancements. It is this distinction between acceptable and unacceptable enhancements that will occupy the next section of this chapter. Once the ground for determining moral acceptability in terms of enhancements has been established, the entire schema will be brought together, so criticisms of it can be answered. The schema of distinctions will also be shown to be useful in assisting us with other problematic areas and criticisms of genetic interventions

Sorts of genetic interventions that are acceptable...

the treatment/enhancement distinction has been seen as a means of deciding between those sorts of genetic interventions that are acceptable and those that are not, it does not fully answer the questions asked about these procedures. With the use of the concept of genetic maladies, the treatment side of the distinction seems able to cope quite well with objections raised against it; it is the other side of the distinction that requires more work. There are a number of reasons for looking further at the enhancement side of the equation. The first of these is that there may be conditions or states of a person that, though not falling within the boundaries of genetic maladies may nevertheless be worthwhile candidates, both in terms of particular persons and for society in general, for genetic intervention. The second reason is that there may be disagreement between differing groups with respect to the status of certain procedures. It may be the case that treatment of certain conditions, such as deafness, which seem to fall within the domain of a malady, may be viewed by other groups, particularly a deaf societal community, as unacceptable both because they do not view it as a necessary treatment, or because they view being deaf vital with respect to their community because they do not regard it as malady. We need a method of determining those conditions, which are not candidates for treatment, but which are nonetheless legitimate targets for enhancement genetic intervention.

Genetic engineering effects in the decision making role of a child...

If we are to believe the conception that children are simply miniature adults and have rights commensurate with this, then we are doing a disservice to both parents and children and putting unnecessary strain on the parent/child relationship. It does mean however that at least for a number of years, it is the parents who are in the decision-making role for the child, it is not until the child begins to speak and be able to express their wishes on certain things that negotiation with respect to the child’s wishes can even begin. Of course as the child matures and their ability to formulate and express their wishes and desires increases, then it makes sense that they should be allowed to have more input into their life choices, as they are after all the ones that have to live with these choices.

Clinical childhood obesity can treat through Bio Technology…

The first problem here is what is to be classified as neglect and this becomes particularly relevant when we consider the minimal expectations of parents put forward earlier. Obviously if a child is not being fed or the actions of the parents in some other way endanger the life of the child directly then there seems to be no problem. But what about the situation where a seven year old is left alone in his home every night after school, from 3.00pm until 7.00pm without any parental supervision. All of the other aspects of the child’s life are being catered for, they are being fed and clothed, it is just that the parent/s of the child are required to work until 7.00pm in the evening. Does leaving a child this young alone consistently satisfy a definition of neglect? Are the parents of children whose dietary habits are such that they become clinically obese at an early age and continue this trend as they mature to be considered to be neglecting their child, due to the problems associated later in life with clinical childhood obesity? If we think that there are problems with these cases, then if we accept the contention that governments should only intervene when there are cases of neglect or abandonment, then we will need to accept that while the parents of these children may be doing something we disapprove of, but that the government can not intervene as they are still within their rights as parents. If we are not willing to accept this then we will need to widen the view of what it means to neglect a child and doing this may have implications that include increasing government intervention in the parent/child relationship, into areas where we have clear intuitions that they should not intervene.

Bio technology can remove the disability some pros and cons…

Here suggesting that there are not cases where it is both obvious and necessary for young children to be removed from or be able to leave homes where they are subjected to abuse and neglect. No parent can claim the protection of some kind of right, in order to justify their ill treatment of their child. Neither however can we claim that parents do not have some rights in relation to the child. The twin conceptions of parental obligations and parental rights are not mutually exclusive, we can develop a model of the parent/child relationship, that both acknowledges the fact that parents have some very strong obligations to their children, but also acknowledges that this is not a one sides affair, that parents can and do have rights, particularly in relation to how these obligations are fulfilled and the depth of state interference in the process of parenting.

Oversimplify relationship Through Cloning between parent and child is lost...

Montague is right when he suggests that parents have obligations with respect to their children. They have the obligation to raise and nurture their children in such a way that they are able to enjoy meaningful lives both currently and as they mature towards their own adulthood. To say however, that these obligations are all that exists seems to oversimplify the relationship between parent and child. Intuitively at least we think that a child has done something wrong, or is at least ungrateful, when without justification, it strikes out against the well intention, good parent. We think there is something wrong when young teens are allowed to, by social systems, to leave homes were there is no abuse and where they have been cared and nurtured for over a decade by loving parents, and the parents are not allowed to even know where the child is. It is this intuition at the very least that leads me to think that Montague’s account is wrong. Surely Montague is not saying that he thinks it is appropriate for a ten year old child to decide that, despite the fact there home life has been better than average, they want to leave home and that we should accept and acknowledge this decision and commit resources to allowing it. Alternatively, perhaps under his conception of parental obligations, the parents would be forced, by the state, to continue to financially support their child even though the child had declined this support from within the home.

Is Genetic Engineering emphasis safety of a child…?

The motivation behind Montague’s concern in his paper is one of safety of children, from the obvious possible abuses of parents’, which he believes is or would be more prevalent under systems construing the relationship between parent and child in terms of parental rights. He quotes cases such as the 1982 “baby doe” case, the incident with the Branch Davidians at Waco and the “baby Jessica” adoption case as examples of the sorts of problems that can arise from a system based on parental rights. Montague says with respect to these cases that “if the parents involved in them are exercising parental rights, then it would appear that they have rights to act in ways that are detrimental to their children a result that is problematic at best.” One straightforward answer to the problem Montague raises is that in the cases he has outlined above, and in other cases of abuse and neglect, the parents may have overstepped the boundaries of their rights. Not many people would attempt to elucidate a theory of parental rights, or the parent/child relationship, where their parent had absolute and inviolable rights of the child. This view would be very similar if not identical to the ownership view that was discussed earlier and this view is one that is clearly not an appropriate model of the parent/child relationship.

Societal views and Child rights…

There still appears to be a problem here. If we take for example liberty, under the equal treatment thesis, a child would possess this right, yet at the same time, intuitively at least not too many parents and others in society would feel at ease with a child of six or seven having the same liberty claims that an adult might have. We would tend to think that a seven year old who decided they wanted to leave home and join the circus for example, should be constrained from undertaking this activity. Yet we would not necessarily, attempt to constrain an adult from this course of action. This would suggest then that when we are considering the unequal treatment thesis we are not just talking about rights over and above basic rights, in many cases we are talking about constricting, though not dispensing with completely basic human rights. As we shall see later however, this problem can be solved by both looking at the rights themselves and looking at how we conceive the relationship between parents and children.

Parent child relationship and Gene Therapy…

When taken by itself as a basis for the model of the parent/child relationship, it in opposition to the equal treatment thesis appears to leave us in a situation very similar to that of the ownership model. When taken in conjunction with the equal treatment thesis there is a definite tension that appears to be created. One the one hand we are saying that children deserve the same consideration as adults, yet on the other we are saying that it is okay for parents to treat children differently from other adults. This is not the case. The two claims are not necessarily inconsistent because as claimed by Noggle and Brennan, “children can have a total package of rights and duties that differs from that of an adult; yet this is compatible with children having the same moral status, and thus the same basic right, as any other persons.” This is because the purview of each of these claims is different. The first, the equal treatment thesis, suggests that children have the same basic, human rights’ that other members of the species have and as a result of this, they must be accorded the same moral consideration. This does not necessarily conflict with the unequal treatment thesis, as it is quite conceivable for people to have the same basic rights, yet have very different total packages of rights. This is because not all rights are basic right, some rights derive from basic rights, others come about as a result of roles that people adopt and the choices they make within society. So therefore, providing the child’s basic rights are not infringed then it seems that this claim will not be inconsistent with unequal treatment in other areas. This means that all children must at the very least be accorded rights such as life, liberty and freedom from deliberate harm. If these rights and what they entail are upheld then parents can treat their children unequally in other areas.

Human Cloning and moral status of a child…

Noggle and Brennan in ‘The moral status of children’ suggest that there are three commonsense claims about children’s moral status. These claims are “that children deserve the same moral consideration as adults, that they can nevertheless be treated differently from adults, and that parents have limited authority to direct their upbringing. This and I agree with Noggle and Brennan here does encompass what could be considered to be the commonsense conception of the principles that outline the parent/child relationship, like Noggle and Brennan however, I also acknowledge that there are some problems and inconsistencies with this common sense approach.

Alone the three claims outlined by Noggle and Brennan, appear to be valid, it is only when that are placed together that they become problematic. The first question I want to ask about this commonsense view is can any of the three claims stand alone as workable models for the parent child relationship. The answer in the case of the first claim, the equal consideration thesis is no, as this model is very similar to the ‘miniature adult model’ put forward by Scales. Any model based around this sole claim will fail, because even though the claim itself is indisputable, the breadth of the claim is not. It is implausible to suggest that children have the same rights and same access to those rights that is enjoyed by adults for reasons outlined when the miniature adult model was discussed.

Genetic interventions that should overturn this right as a general principle..

This is the correct interpretation of the situation because it holds up the rights of individuals with respect to choice in relation to the type of childbirth they wish to have. If parents wish to have as little medical intervention as is possible then this is a choice that they as autonomous persons have currently and there is nothing specific about genetic interventions that should overturn this right as a general principle. On the other hand this interpretation also respects rights of children to open futures. This is particularly evident in the situation with respect to IVF technologies where these rights should override the more general right the parents possess to choose the level of medical intervention, even though in the situation above it appears to be matter of chance as to whether or not IVF technologies are necessary.

Genetic interventions and correction of such disabilities….

It would also be the case that with respect to genetic interventions that the correction of such disabilities prior to implantation would also be acceptable and in fact should be carried out. The rights expressed earlier of persons to choose to have as little medical intervention as possible in the conception and birth of their child would be overridden in this scenario by the right to an open future of the child that would be produced.. To choose to implant an embryo with a disability, when the options to either implant one without disability or to have disability corrected prior to implantation, would seem to severely impact upon the child’s right to an open future.

Is IVF part of Biological Techniques…

A question can be raised in relation to this stance, concerning IVF technologies. If a couple were to have a biological reason which precluded them from conceiving without the aid of medical intervention and they decided to undergo IVF procedures in order to have a child, does this then give society the right to say that they must then accept further interventions, such as the correction of a disability? There are a number of tensions inherent in this scenario, the one being most important to the current discussion is whether a matter of chance, that is whether one will be able to have a child or not without medical intervention, should be enough to overturn the rights a person would possess were they able to conceive without interventions. In this case I think that it does. Given that there are a number of embryo’s produced for the purpose of implantation and that these embryo’s will by necessity be screened for viability there seems little justification to choose an embryo that possessed a disability that would impact negatively on its right to an open future over an embryo that did not possess that disability.

If genetic interventions do become prevalent then….

There is some weight behind the position that Reindal takes. It does appear that if genetic interventions do become prevalent then this may have detrimental effects on the amounts of funding that societies are willing to commit to disabled services. However, from a pragmatic point of view widespread Genetic Interventions would mean there were less people with disabilities for the resources to be shared amongst. It does appear to be the case now however, that more funds are spent on the ‘curing’ of disability, than on the inclusion of people with disabilities. If the ability to ‘cure’ a disability through genetic intervention becomes safe, effective and easily accessible, then the fear of this situation worsening may be a real one. This does not give us reasons however to think that there is something ethically irresponsible about the use of genetic interventions to ‘cure’ disability in itself.

Can Genetic Engineering remove the Tension of Disability?

Why then do people with disabilities there is a tension? Why would they not welcome the disappearance of the disability, in much the same way society at large has welcomed the disappearance of Smallpox. One of the reasons for this is the argument that any viewpoint relating to ‘curing’ a disability, assumes what is known as the medical model of disability, where a disability is viewed as an impairment of some kind, in an individual. This model has been subjected to criticism because it does not seem to parallel our societal understanding of what disability is. In addition, the medical model seems to have the view built into it that a disability is bad for the person who has it and that they would be, or would have been better off, if they did not have the disability. It is this view that Reindal suggests motivates some of society’s reactions to disability. One consequence of it is that resources are directed into impairment-related research and intervention, whereas scant resources are channelled into social change for the inclusion of people with impairments. He is concerned that with increases in genetic interventions that advocates of the ‘curing’ ideal will argue that we cannot assume that society is obliged to undertake changing the world for disabled people so as to render them not disabled in all cases, rather than eliminating the impairment, especially where doing that is cheaper.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Feinberg’s conception and Genetic Engineering

This is one of the central themes of Feinberg’s conception that the child be given as much freedom as possibility with respect to being able to being able to choose for themselves what it is that constitutes the good life. An intervention such as skin the randomly changes colour clearly is one that would restrict the conceptions available. The argument may still be made that even if certain conceptions of the good life have been removed from the child, these have been replaced with others that more than make up for the loss. There are two problems with this; the first is that with any claim like the one above we have to first be certain that the intervention in question is not one that will violate any of the child’s rights first. Only once this has been established can we begin to consider anything else and with respect to something like skin that change colour I suspect that it may violate some of the child’s rights. The other problem is that it is the case that a choice has been removed from the child. The parents’ idea of the good life, that having skin that changes colour is a good thing, has been placed upon the child before the child has had the opportunity to consider whether or not this intervention is one that fits into their conception of the good life.

Ability of making distinctions between various types of genetic interventions

One further issues needs to be addressed with respect to the ability of making distinctions between various types of genetic interventions, in particular those that relate to the enhancement of complex traits such as intelligence. This is that any attempts to make distinctions between the appropriateness of different interventions is a flawed process because with respect to complex traits in particular it is difficult if not impossible to through the manipulation of a person genetic code make any real changes to these complex traits with any degree of certainty. This is because with traits such as intelligence, it is not the case that the level of a person intelligence is controlled either by the genes of the person in question or by their environment, rather these complex traits are instead the result of the both the actions of the gene and the environment as well as a random developmental noise. This is “in contrast to models of development in which genes or environments are determinative.”[xii] This idea suggests that it is therefore difficult if not impossible to manifest any real directed change in a complex trait via genetic intervention and that as a result procedures aimed at enhancing these complex traits are inappropriate.

Improved quickness and dexterity by Genetic engineering

What about the situation where Sarah is genetically enhanced by her parents to have improved quickness and dexterity, as they desire her to be a good soccer player. If she doesn’t like soccer then Schonfeld suggests there will be a number of detrimental effects that this will have on the child and family and these effects show that genetic enhancement breaches the fiduciary relationship. It is my position that it is not the use of genetic enhancement in and of itself that breaches this relationship rather it is the attitude of the parents themselves. Genetic enhancements to improve a child’s quickness and dexterity are likely to give the child a wider range of conceptions of the good life or at the very least make improvements to those conceptions of the good life they would have without the enhancements.

Genetically engineered to be a good soccer player

The problem for Schonfeld is that he seems to be suggesting that being genetically altered to be a good soccer player amounts to the same thing as genetically enhancing a child’s quickness and dexterity. An important point to make here is that, if parents wished to have there child genetically engineered to be a good soccer player, then it could be suggested that one of a range of genetic interventions that would be made to the child would be to give the child a love of soccer. This would of course mean the problem Schonfeld foresees due to Sarah not liking soccer would not occur. This is not to suggest this type of genetic intervention would be morally acceptable, if for no other than it would as I have said previously severely diminish the range of conceptions of the good life available to the child and thus breach the fiduciary relationship between the parent and the child.

Genetic engineering and IQ of a child

We will consider and example that shows how the distinctions discussed above can be used in order to show that at least one genetic intervention that has been traditionally viewed as an enhancement is acceptable. Take the example of parents who wish to increase the IQ, or at least the potential IQ of their child,given that this wish is not in response to the child having an IQ that falls which places them in the malady category. This intervention unlike the others discussed does not appear to have a negative effect on the choices or conceptions of the good life available to child in question although this is not the view held by Schonfeld, however her claims with respect to this will be answered shortly. This is because regardless of the life plan that the child decides is appropriate for themselves it seems as if it will go better if they have a higher level of intelligence, as they will be better equipped to deal with the challenges of life and better able to consider the choices available to them with regards their development of a life plan. Some may argue that this is incorrect, and this is the position taken by Schonfeld. She uses two examples to illustrate her point, namely increased quickness and dexterity and more importantly for the discussion her increased intelligence. Schonfeld suggests that while on the surface these enhancements would appear to be “at least permissible according to our fiduciary role, if not specifically required by it” this is not the case. The first issue that Schonfeld raises is ‘what happens if Sarah does not like soccer.” He says that this may be detrimental to Sarah, because even though she doesn’t like soccer, her parents have invested time and money in her having certain skills and therefore there will be more pressure on her that on a non-enhanced child to utilize those skills to their best advantage. As well as this the parents disappointment with her not fulfilling the expectations they had for her may have a detrimental effect on family life, leading to an unhappy environment in which to grow and mature.

Genetic Engineering and Disability

Recently a number of cases involving the use of the cochlear implant as a ‘cure’ for deafness, and requests from parents with achondroplasia (dwarfism) or hereditary deafness, to have children who possess their disability, have highlighted problems with the position defended by Harris. The problems associated with requests such as these will become more common as our ability to manipulate our genes increases.

What factors would motivate the desire, on the part of persons with disabilities, to have a child who shares their disability, or not to ‘correct’ such disability when the option to do so exists? There are a number of reasons put forward for this choice. These include the idea of the value of Deaf culture(or any other culture surrounding a disability), issues relating to how persons with disabilities are viewed by the community at large, a fear of being unable to relate to and interact with a child that does not share their disability and the difficulties associated with adapting facilities and lifestyle to cope with a non-disabled child.

Is there any realtionship in Gene Therapy and Disability????

Consider a world in which gene therapy is a simple, effective and safe process. Alterations to either somatic cells or the germ-line consist of little more than a trip to the hospital to receive an injection of the appropriate gene and vector. A couple go to their local physician for genetic screening before attempting to conceive a child. They are told that the screening has detected an ‘abnormality'in their genetic makeup that will mean any child they produce will be profoundly deaf from birth. The physician then offers the couple germ-line therapy to correct the problem, allowing them to have children who will not be deaf. It appears straightforward to most of us that the couple should undergo the genetic treatment. It seems that it is preferable, for the child that the parents have a child who is not deaf, than to have one that is. This is Harris view. According to Harris, “everyone should be discouraged from reproducing children who will be significantly harmed by their genetic constitution.

A conflict between parental autonomy and the child’s future autonomy

This is not the case with respect to reproductive choice arguments based around concepts of disabled culture having value, or issues concerning how society in general views these groups. These arguments present challenges that must be considered in relation to both the particular situation they refer to, and the implications they have for the moral status of gene therapy in general. The reason for these wider implications is that decisions made in relation to the rights of disabled persons with respect to reproductive and gene therapy may affect the rights of other groups such as ethnic minorities or religious communities. It has been suggested that the underlying problem with respect to these arguments is the tension that exists, between beneficence in relation to the child’s quality of life, and the rights of certain cultures or groups to continue to exist, or to be viewed in certain ways by society in general. Davis argues that there exists another issue for gene therapy in general. She contends that these arguments are “a conflict between parental autonomy and the child’s future autonomy.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A somatic cell intervention is morally justified…


It is morally acceptable to offer somatic interventions to those person who acquire it in each generation it appears, then it is also morally acceptable to alter the germ-line so that this condition is not passed on to future generations. This would also have the added benefit of being more efficient in terms of time, money and resources then somatically altering the genes of each sufferer on an ongoing generational basis. To use the example of Huntington’s again, if we find it morally acceptable to correct instances of the disease in people through somatic cell therapy, performed on each generation, then it is also morally acceptable and would be more efficient to correct the condition through germ-line interventions to ensure the condition is not passed on and the becomes more and more rare, requiring less interventions per generational group.

Somatic cell interventions will not have unintended effects on the germ-line of recipients….


Some proponents, through application of the principle of double effect have answered the problem of somatic cell interventions designed and intended only to affect the somatic cells, which unintentionally cause alterations to the germ-line. Marc Lappe states that “Germ-line engineering as a direct attempt to change the genotype of future generations cannot ethically be justified. However, when such changes arise as an indirect and otherwise unavoidable consequence of an approved form of somatic cell engineering, they are morally acceptable. The first objection relates to the issue of intention and the unintended consequences of the interventions. Two people, both suffering the same condition attempt to acquire somatic cell intervention to remedy the condition they possess. The intention of the first person is to have the therapy in order to correct the condition, as it is present in them. The second person however knows that there is risk that the procedure will have an effect on their germ-line and this is the major reason for them wanting to undergo the procedure. While they want the condition corrected in them, the major intention in undergoing the procedure is to alter the germ-line so that any progeny will not have to suffer the condition in their life. It seems under the principle of double effect that the first person should be accepted for the therapy while the second should be rejected on the ground that he is more concerned about the effects of the condition on his offspring then on himself. As Moseley suggests, “this would seem to be a morally questionable criterion for a physician to use in deciding whether to proceed with genetic therapy. It is also troubling that all that the second person needs to in order to procure the procedure for them is to lie about their primary intention for wanting to the intervention. Having a situation where people are forced to lie or omit information in order to receive treatment cannot be one that can be said to be good medical practice.

Gene Therapy and human cloning some pros and cons….


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 is 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.

Genetic intervention technologies and issue of eugenics…


The issue of genetic interventions being used or co-opted for eugenic ends will also be considered. The problem can be broken down into two different problems; the first is that of state controlled genetic intervention which seems at least in some cases seems to bear a resemblance to the state sponsored eugenic programmed of earlier years. The second problem is that of eugenic style problems resulting from the choices made by individuals within a free market system were the provision of genetic interventions is not state controlled but is controlled by the market and individual choice. These are two different problems. Yet investigations of these problems will be show that it is possible to create a system in which the benefits of genetic interventions can be accessed by the public without this access falling into the realm of a eugenic nightmare.

Genetic interventions in general and their application in medical terms…


One of these concerns is already present in a non-genetic medical application. This is the type of objection raised by members of the deaf community to the ‘curing’ of deafness by use of the cochlear implant. With the advent of genetic technologies, particularly germ-line interventions the problems associated with ‘curing’ deafness take on additional implications. Deaf parents feel that this style of intervention would exclude an otherwise deaf child from Deaf culture. Some deaf parents do not consider the ‘cure’ to be in the children’s best interests, because it does not allow them access to Deaf culture. They believe that there is a full and vibrant deaf culture which their child will miss out on with such treatment. They also see problems with the relationship between them and their child, given that their child will never experience the world in the same way they do and neither will they. There have also been objections to this sort of treatment made on the grounds that it says something quite profound about society’s view of people with deafness and other disabilities.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Genetic therapy has distinct in its treatment...


The treatment/enhancement distinction has been seen as a means of deciding between those sorts of genetic interventions that are acceptable and those that are not, it does not fully answer the questions asked about these procedures. With the use of the concept of genetic maladies, the treatment side of the distinction seems able to cope quite well with objections raised against it; it is the other side of the distinction that requires more work. There are a number of reasons for looking further at the enhancement side of the equation. The first of these is that there may be conditions or states of a person that, though not falling within the boundaries of genetic maladies may nevertheless be worthwhile candidates, both in terms of particular persons and for society in general, for genetic intervention. The second reason is that there may be disagreement between differing groups with respect to the status of certain procedures. It may be the case that treatment of certain conditions, such as deafness, which seem to fall within the domain of a malady, may be viewed by other groups, particularly a deaf societal community, as unacceptable both because they do not view it as a necessary treatment, or because they view being deaf vital with respect to their community because they do not regard it as malady. We need a method of determining those conditions, which are not candidates for treatment, but which are nonetheless legitimate targets for enhancement genetic intervention.
[i] S Scales, "Intergenerational Justice and Care in Parenting.," Social Theory and practice 28.4 (2002)