Enhancing Evolution: The Ethical Case for Making Better People

Princeton University Press
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In Enhancing Evolution, leading bioethicist John Harris dismantles objections to genetic engineering, stem-cell research, designer babies, and cloning and makes an ethical case for biotechnology that is both forthright and rigorous. Human enhancement, Harris argues, is a good thing--good morally, good for individuals, good as social policy, and good for a genetic heritage that needs serious improvement. Enhancing Evolution defends biotechnological interventions that could allow us to live longer, healthier, and even happier lives by, for example, providing us with immunity from cancer and HIV/AIDS. Further, Harris champions the possibility of influencing the very course of evolution to give us increased mental and physical powers--from reasoning, concentration, and memory to strength, stamina, and reaction speed. Indeed, he says, it's not only morally defensible to enhance ourselves; in some cases, it's morally obligatory.

In a new preface, Harris offers a glimpse at the new science and technology to come, equipping readers with the knowledge to assess the ethics and policy dimensions of future forms of human enhancement.

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About the author

John Harris is the Lord David Alliance Professor of Bioethics at the University of Manchester School of Law, joint editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medical Ethics, and a member of Britain's Human Genetics Commission. His many books include On Cloning and Clones, Genes, and Immortality.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Sep 27, 2010
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9781400836383
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Science / Life Sciences / Genetics & Genomics
Science / Philosophy & Social Aspects
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Investigations into the interplay of biological and legal conceptions of life, from government policies on cloning to DNA profiling by law enforcement.

Legal texts have been with us since the dawn of human history. Beginning in 1953, life too became textual. The discovery of the structure of DNA made it possible to represent the basic matter of life with permutations and combinations of four letters of the alphabet, A, T, C, and G. Since then, the biological and legal conceptions of life have been in constant, mutually constitutive interplay—the former focusing on life's definition, the latter on life's entitlements. Reframing Rights argues that this period of transformative change in law and the life sciences should be considered “bioconstitutional.”

Reframing Rights explores the evolving relationship of biology, biotechnology, and law through a series of national and cross-national case studies. Sheila Jasanoff maps out the conceptual territory in a substantive editorial introduction, after which the contributors offer “snapshots” of developments at the frontiers of biotechnology and the law. Chapters examine such topics as national cloning and xenotransplant policies; the politics of stem cell research in Britain, Germany, and Italy; DNA profiling and DNA databases in criminal law; clinical trials in India and the United States; the GM crop controversy in Britain; and precautionary policymaking in the European Union. These cases demonstrate changes of constitutional significance in the relations among human bodies, selves, science, and the state.

Recent advances in techniques and understanding in the fields of genetics, embryology and reproductive biology have opened up new ways to treat a wide range of medical problems. They range from new options for infertility treatment and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis to stem-cell-based therapies for debilitating diseases. Since all these approaches involve the manipulation of human gametes, embryos or embryonic cells, and could also permit more contentious uses, they have stimulated a controversial debate as to what aims are desirable and to what extent experiments on human embryos are morally permissible, if permissible at all. The situation is further complicated by the fact that scientific projects are increasingly realized through international co-operation and that patients are increasingly ready to seek morally contentious medical treatment wherever it is available and thus to bypass national legislation. In view of this situation the Europäische Akademie assembled a temporary interdisciplinary project group in which scientists from universities and non-university research organizations in Europe working on the relevant subjects were brought together and charged with establishing a knowledge base and providing suggestions for long-term solutions that would be acceptable for society. Presented here are the results of this project, ranging from a discussion of the theoretical and practical possibilities in human-embryo experimentation and its alternatives in research on adult stem cells, a comparison of the situations and prospects of regulation of embryo research in Europe, a survey of European public attitudes, and a philosophical analysis of the arguments and argumentative strategies used in the debate.
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