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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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Concluding remarks

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In this book we have presented a combined pluralistic approach to the moral problems concerning genetic selection and human enhancement. It consists of two combinations and both approaches are, in turn, linked to one another. The first joins the individual perspective of a parent with the social perspective expressed in moral assumptions towards legal regulations. The second one is a combination of principles and virtues in moral reasoning. Individual and social reasons are expressed in the form of principles such as procreative beneficence, procreative nonmalaficence, the principle of reproductive autonomy or the acceptance of a child. In many cases, the principles formulated from these two perspectives support each other, but their radical dissimilarity makes potential conflicts harder to resolve. The clash of these two perspectives provides the opportunity to discover the proper meaning and the scope of moral principles concerning procreation based on the intrinsic value of the parent-child relationship and that of the child himself, with both values being complementary. The value of the relation is what makes potential parents want to create it, even before the child exists and hence without the necessary reference to the existence and identity of the child. In the social aspect, the intrinsic value of the relationship allows one to justify the legal protection of embryos, foetuses and the relationship itself. It also limits some of the possible enhancing interventions involved in the transhumanist and posthumanist projects as it gives an axiological meaning to some of the biological and psychological aspects...

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