Is It Immoral Not to Design Your Baby?

The editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics, Julian Savulescu, has a radical utilitarian message, but he is preaching it in the most conventional of outlets, the UK edition of Reader’s Digest. In the September issue he argues that parents have a moral obligation to genetically screen their children for defective genes. “Rational design” of children would lead to a more intelligent and less violent society.

“Surely trying to ensure that your children have the best, or a good enough, opportunity for a great life is responsible parenting? “So where genetic selection aims to bring out a trait that clearly benefits an individual and society, we should allow parents the choice.

“To do otherwise is to consign those who come after us to the ball and chain of our squeamishness and irrationality. Indeed, when it comes to screening out personality flaws, such as potential alcoholism, psychopathy and disposition to violence, you could argue that people have a moral obligation to select ethically better children.

“They are, after all, less likely to harm themselves and others… If we have the power to intervene in the nature of our offspring — rather than consigning them to the natural lottery — then we should.”

Michael Cook

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Michael Cook likes bad puns, bushwalking and black coffee. He did a BA at Harvard University in the US where it was good for networking, but moved to Sydney where it wasn’t. He also did a PhD on an obscure corner of Australian literature. He has worked as a book editor and magazine editor and has published articles in magazines and newspapers in the US, the UK and Australia.

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  • Diana

    By all means, we could be so bold as to make sure our world is clean of all who could require others’ compassion and love. Just imagine the work that could be deleted that now fills our lives with heart-felt caring for our brothers and sisters. To be ethically driven to a moral obligation to select ethically better off-spring sounds like we could just start building our future society out of cardboard-DISPOSABLE.

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