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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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9 Human self-understanding in the debate over moral human enhancement: autonomy and authenticity

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9.1 Introduction

The term ‘transhumanism’ was coined by the English biologist, Julian Huxley, the brother of Aldous Huxley, the famous writer who wrote Brave New World1. He used the term as a title for an essay he published in 1957 in which he announced the appearance of a new ‘cosmic self-awareness’ which would decide the future of humanity (Huxley 1968, 73). He named humanity the ‘managing director of the biggest business of all, the business of evolution’ and, although we never actually asked to hold such a post, we cannot resign from it (Huxley 1968, 73). Humanity’s ‘cosmic duty’ is to fully develop humans’ possibilities as individuals, a community or ultimately, a species, acting to benefit the welfare of future generations and human progress (Huxley 1968, 76). The first task to be completed when realising this goal – essential for investigating the range of human possibilities – is an exploration of human nature, in which ‘A vast New World of uncharted possibilities awaits its Columbus’ (Huxley 1968, 74). Huxley’s appeal to create an inner map of human possibilities did not have to wait long for a response. Scientists managed to sequence the complete human genome fifty years later, and world leaders hailed this discovery as the most important map for humanity and ‘our own instruction book’ (Collins 2006, 2–3). This discovery should pave the way to the implementation of the transhumanist assumptions Julian Huxley subscribed to, turning his dreams into reality:

The human species can,...

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