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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.