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Human Genetic Selection and Enhancement

Parental Perspectives and Law

Marta Soniewicka and Wojciech Lewandowski

Among all human practices, procreation seems the most paradoxical. It starts as a fully personal choice and ends with the creation of a new subject of rights and responsibilities. Advances in reproductive genetics pose new ethical and legal questions. They are expected to prevent the transmission of genetic diseases to progeny and also to improve genetically-endowed mental and physical attributes. Genetic selection and enhancement may affect a child’s identity, as well as the parent-child relationship. The authors are committed to a pluralistic approach that captures all aspects of this relationship in terms of moral virtues and principles. They elucidate that most of the conflicts between parental preferences and a child’s rights could be resolved with reference to the meaning and nature of procreation.

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6 Parent-God analogy in procreative decisions


Wojciech Lewandowski

6    Parent-God analogy in procreative decisions

Making reference to parental responsibilities is one of the ways of justifying moral judgements of genetic selection. This approach is used to solve the non-identity problem and indicate the scope of reproductive autonomy. The second approach to evaluating reproductive decisions is to refer to arguments that impose conditions whose fulfilment allows to consider these decisions right. The ‘playing God’ argument is one of these. It states that currently human limitations cause certain biomedical interventions to not meet these conditions or – in a more absolute version – to never meet them. The ‘playing God’ argument is most often addressed to scientists and medical personnel involved in actions that result in bringing new humans into existence. David Heyd expanded the scope of this argument to all people whose decisions affect the creation of a new child (Heyd 1992), and at the same time used the parent-God analogy to reject moral obligations towards potential children. Thus, the prospect of parents striving to have a baby is present in both of these approaches, although it holds a distinguished position only in the first case. In this chapter, I will present the implications of the parent-God analogy in judging procreative decisions with regard to the problem of acceptable arbitrariness in choosing or accepting to bring a child affected by a medical condition into the world.

6.1 Parental perspective and the problem of the limits of arbitrariness

Most positions in the...

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