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.”