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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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10 Genetic enhancement and moral perfection


To have a better life, to be a better person – these are one of the most often analysed human aspirations in ethics. Thanks to advances in the biomedical sciences which allow us to not only combat diseases, but also provide people with additional, unprecedented opportunities, both of these pursuits have gained a completely new perspective. This is the context surrounding the modern discussions on human enhancement. Most often, this category is referred to the augmentation of human capabilities above and beyond the usual level. This could mean any change on a person’s biological or psychological level that would increase species-specific capabilities above a certain statistically determined level (Savulescu, Sanders & Kahane 2011, 7). The scope of human enhancement includes cognitive enhancement, aiming at expanding memory or increasing intelligence, enhancing mood, allowing the adjustment of the intensity and type of experienced emotions, physical augmentation, including increased height, strength or stamina, as well as extending human life. a new category of human enhancement, which this article is devoted to, is moral enhancement. The greatest hopes among the currently analysed methods of human enhancement, aside from pharmaceutical and surgical interventions, are raised by genetic enhancement, also including eugenic selection.

There are two competing positions in the discussion on improving the human species. The first, called transhumanism, says that the enhancement of human species should be promoted. Based on this position, the obligation – or at least the admissibility – is justified of using available knowledge and resources for better men, or...

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