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Literary criticism of article on The Ehics of Genetic Engineering - Essay Example

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In a position paper on the ethics of genetic engineering, David Koepsell argues for the benefits of genetic engineering to the exclusion of its alleged harms. The author does not see the new advances in biological technology as a potential ethical problem, assuming that it is “appropriately regulated” (Koepsell 19)…
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Literary criticism of article on The Ehics of Genetic Engineering
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Download file to see previous pages In fact, people have more to fear from the restriction of this technology in the sense that giving up on its benefits, in favor of outdated moral arguments, could lead to more harm than good. Although Koepsell prescribes regulation in order to control potential abuses of this technology, he does not provide a political or scientific framework for managing the risks associated with genetic engineering and gives a rather cursory look at the moral arguments against new technologies. With these weaknesses in mind, one should nonetheless take Koepsell’s warnings seriously, as they are not only applicable to genetic engineering but a wide variety of novel fields in the application of scientific research. The author begins by giving the basic science behind genetic engineering, which includes basic information about DNA, genes, and genetic disorders. He also approaches the issue of ethical challenges, including the secular and non-secular objections to genetic engineering. Secular arguments tend to focus on dignity at the species level. However, this objection fails in that there is no room for non-arbitrary distinctions between human DNA and the DNA of other species. Consistency in this case requires hands-off for both human DNA and that of crops. The non-secular arguments tend to focus on genetic engineering as something opposed to “nature”. ...
This cost/benefit analysis is presumed to have moral significance because it focuses specifically on things that human beings value most. If genetic engineering is beneficial to all of these different areas of human life, then it necessarily must be good. Koepsell devotes some attention to drawbacks of the technological advances; however, the only drawback that is addressed is the inherent unpredictability of genetic crossbreeding between engineering and non-engineered genomes. This is exemplified both in human populations, where gene therapies can have potentially harmful effects on populations, and in agriculture, where the spread of genes is more uncontrollable and less conscious. However, Koepsell’s section on drawbacks is not as positive as one might hope: it is interspersed with language like “will improve,” “scientific breakthrough,” and “testing should be employed” (Koepsell 13-15). One can tell immediately that this section on drawbacks is not a value-neutral account of the actual dangers of the technology, but is rather fodder for the author’s arguments for more research. Appropriately, this section leads into considerations of “justice” and “equity,” which are two primary ethical concerns of scientific research. The author considers straw-man situations such as those found in science fiction to dispute the theory of a genetically-derived underclass, and begins to acknowledge the difficulty of trusting policymakers to provide “rational oversight and regulation of germline modifications in humans” (18). The purpose of regulation, the author contends, is to provide a just and equitable distribution of benefits to a society. Accordingly, instead of having only the rich able ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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