While the collapse of the Soviet Union has diminished the force of George Orwell's 1984, the other great dystopian tract of the twentieth century, Alduous Huxley's Brave New World, is timelier than ever. The ongoing process of genetic science may well revolutionize medicine and human reproduction, and it may end by giving us the ability to transform the human species itself. This new power has raised hopes that we will solve a range of genetically based problems that afflict us. It has also evoked fears that we are on the verge of a "post human" future in which precious but necessary norms regulating individual and social life will be set aside. Will we have the moral and political wisdom to avoid the pitfalls in using new biotechnologies? Genetic Prospects considers the resources from which the needed norms and maxims might be drawn, scrutinizing carefully the contributions of common sense, religion, and moral sentiment. Taken together, the essays in this volume apply philosophical analysis to address three kinds of questions: What are the implications of genetic science for our understanding of nature? What might it influence in our conception of human nature? What challenges does genetic science poses for specific issues of private conduct or public policy?
Verna V. Gehring is editor of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at the School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland, and editor of Philosophy & Public Policy Quarterly. She is also a moderator for the Aspen Institute.
Part 1 I. The Concept of the Natural Chapter 2 Genetic Engineering and the Concept of the Natural Chapter 3 Unnatural Farming and the Debate over Genetic Manipulation Part 4 II. Our (Modified?) Human Nature Chapter 5 Genetic Engineering and Our Human Nature Chapter 6 Normal Humans, Human Nature, and Genetic Lessons Part 7 III. The Ethics (and Politics) of Genetic Technologies Chapter 8 Finessing Nature Chapter 9 Stem Cell Research and the Legacy of Abortion Chapter 10 What Makes Genetic Discrimination Exceptional? Chapter 11 My Fair Baby: What's Wrong with Parents Genetically Enhancing Their Children? Chapter 12 The Ethics of Making the Body Beautiful: What Cosmetic Genetics Can Learn from Cosmetic Surgery