In recent years, bioethical discourse around the topic of ‘genetic enhancement’ has become increasingly politicized. We fear there is too much focus on the semantic question of whether we should call particular practices and emerging bio-technologies such as CRISPR ‘eugenics’, rather than the more important question of how we should view them from the perspective of ethics and policy. Here, we address the question of whether ‘eugenics’ can be defended and how proponents and critics of enhancement should engage with each (...) other. (shrink)
Creating Future People offers readers a fast-paced primer on how new genetic technologies will enable parents to influence the traits of their children, including their intelligence, moral capacities, physical appearances, and immune systems. It deftly explains the science of gene editing and embryo selection, and raises the central moral questions with colorful language and a brisk style. Jonathan Anomaly takes seriously the diversity of preferences parents have, and the limits policymakers face in regulating what could soon be a global market (...) for reproductive technology. He argues that once embryo selection for complex traits happens it will change the moral landscape by altering the incentives available to parents. All of us will take an interest in the traits everyone else selects, and this will present coordination problems that previous writers on genetic enhancement have failed to consider. Anomaly navigates difficult ethical issues with vivid language and scientifically-informed speculation about how genetic engineering will transform humanity. Key Features: Offers clear explanations of scientific concepts Explores important moral questions without academic jargon Brings discoveries from different fields together to give us a sense of where humanity is headed. (shrink)
Many people greet evidence of biologically based race and sex differences with extreme skepticism, even hostility. We argue that some of the vehemence with which many intellectuals in the West resist claims about group differences is rooted in the tacit assumption that accepting evidence for group differences in socially valued traits would undermine our reasons to treat people with respect. We call this theegalitarian fallacy. We first explain the fallacy and then give evidence that self-described liberals in the United States (...) are especially likely to commit it when they reason about topics like race and sex. We then argue that people should not be as worried as they often are about research that finds psychological differences between men and women, or between people of different racial or ethnic groups. We conclude that if moral equality is believed to rest on biological identity, ethnically diverse societies are in trouble. (shrink)
Antibiotic resistance is one of the most pressing public health problems humanity faces. Research into new classes of antibiotics and new kinds of treatments – including risky experimental treatments such as phage therapy and vaccines – is an important part of improving our ability to treat infectious diseases. In order to aid this research, we will argue that we should permit researchers to pay people any amount of money to compensate for the risks of participating in clinical trials, including ‘challenge (...) studies’ that involve deliberately infecting patients. We think that standard worries about paying for participation in risky research are reducible to concerns that can be addressed with the right screening mechanisms. (shrink)
For most of human history children have been a byproduct of sex rather than a conscious choice by parents to create people with traits that they care about. As our understanding of genetics advances along with our ability to control reproduction and manipulate genes, prospective parents have stronger moral reasons to consider how their choices are likely to affect their children, and how their children are likely to affect other people. With the advent of cheap and effective contraception, and the (...) emergence of new technologies for in vitro fertilization, embryo selection, and genetic engineering, it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify rolling the genetic dice by having children without thinking about the traits they will have. It is time to face up to the awesome responsibilities that accompany our reproductive choices. (shrink)
A central debate in bioethics is whether parents should try to influence the genetic basis of their children’s traits. We argue that the case for using mate selection, embryo selection, and other interventions to enhance heritable traits like intelligence is strengthened by the fact that they seem to have positive network effects. These network effects include increased cooperation in collective action problems, which contributes to social trust and prosperity. We begin with an overview of evidence for these claims, and then (...) argue that if individual welfare is largely a function of group traits, parents should try to preserve or enhance cognitive traits that have positive network effects. (shrink)
Procreation is the ultimate public goods problem. Each new child affects the welfare of many other people, and some (but not all) children produce uncompensated value that future people will enjoy. This essay addresses challenges that arise if we think of procreation and parenting as public goods. These include whether individual choices are likely to lead to a socially desirable outcome, and whether changes in laws, social norms, or access to genetic engineering and embryo selection might improve the aggregate outcome (...) of our reproductive choices. (shrink)
The only book on the market to include classical and contemporary readings from key authors in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE), this unique anthology provides a comprehensive overview of the central topics in this rapidly expanding field. Each chapter opens with an introduction that helps students understand the central arguments and key concepts in the readings. The selections encourage students to think about the extent to which the three disciplines offer complementary or contradictory ways of approaching the relevant issues. Philosophy, (...) Politics, and Economics: An Anthology is ideal for undergraduate PPE programs and courses in political philosophy and political economy. (shrink)
In this article I first clarify and then defend Bernard Williams' claim that all practical reasons are internal. I argue that since external reasons are incompatible with a plausible version of the ought-implies-can principle, they are all false. Although some defend internalism by asserting that external reasons fail to explain rational action, a better defense appeals to the fact that only internal reasons are consistent with the ought-implies-can principle.
For over a century, scientists have run experiments using phage viruses to treat bacterial infections. Until recently, the results were inconclusive because the mechanisms viruses use to attack bacteria were poorly understood. With the development of molecular biology, scientists now have a better sense of how phage work, and how they can be used to target infections. As resistance to traditional antibiotics continues to spread around the world, there is a moral imperative to facilitate research into phage therapy as an (...) alternative treatment. This essay reviews ethical questions raised by phage therapy, and discusses regulatory challenges associated with phage research, and phage treatments. (shrink)
The article Public goods and procreation, written by Jonathan Anomaly, was originally published electronically on the publisher’s internet portal (currently SpringerLink) on 10 December 2014 without open access.