editor-in-chief of JME wants to engineer “ethical” babies

Julian Savulescu, editor-in-chief of the prestigious Journal of Medical Ethics and director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, has recently reiterated his argument that using genetic engineering to create morally improved babies is an ethical obligation for all parents.

But how does Savulescu know that genetic intervention will improve individual morality? To Savulescu, the answers are simple: eliminate traits connected to–for instance–alcoholism, bad temper, and violence, and select for traits connected to altruism and cooperation. But his views may betray an unwitting commitment to genetic determinism.

From a recent article: “Parents, he argues, have a responsibility to society to select for ‘ethically better children,’ likening these screening [sic] for the ones already in place for Down’s syndrome and cystic fibrosis.”

For those already critical of the astronomical rates of selection against persons with Down syndrome, this parallel is no help.

My dissertation, especially the second chapter, engages and critiques Savulescu’s specific endorsements of genetic selection for the purposes of human enhancement.

Read more about Savulescu’s recent statements.

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