Science Fiction: Genetic Engineering of Humans (1) The pace scientific progress in twentieth century resulted in fact that nowadays, the obtained empirical knowledge, often cannot be thought of outside of moral context. The discovery of DNA and its role in predetermining the physical and mental properties of a human being, allowed us to realize that now it is only the matter of time, before we are going to be able to talk about genetic engineering, as the method of improving biological quality of human population. Even today, it is possible for the married couple to choose the gender of its unborn child, by allowing biologists to alter the female egg DNA sequence. In the future, people are going to be capable of choosing the physical and mental characteristics of its children, which poses the question of whether such practice can be considered as being moral. Many citizens suggest that genetic engineering of humans cannot be allowed, because it would deprive children that are being made on order of their free will, which is believed to be something that every individual is entitled with, since the time of birth. At the same time, the proponents of free will, cannot give the answer whether the people with genetically predetermined mental or physical disorders posses free will. It is too obvious for anyone, with the ability of logical thought that they do not.
Genetic engineering can fully eliminate the possibility of passing the genetic inadequacy from generation to generation. Is it a bad or good? For Bible thumpers, it is bad, because if there are going to be no cripples and mental retards; Christian doctrine is going to lose the last remains of its credibility. Christians use the term free will as the euphemism for pain and suffering, therefore, their argument cannot be taken seriously. The freedom of will is nothing but a freedom to make conscious choices that are essentially beneficial. Thus, genetic engineering only provides people with possibility to improve their own life, thorough improving demographical situation in society, where they live. It is natural, because elimination of mental and physical disorders, within specie, is actually, what biological evolution strives for, as it increases species chances to survive. Therefore, genetic engineering cannot be prevented by some legislative act, as it proved to be impossible to prevent the spread of knowledge in Middle Ages, even though Inquisition tried its hardest to preserve the society just how it was.
... free thinking individuals. Perhaps the most profound ethical concern regarding genetic engineering is the questioning of what it means to be human and if genetic engineering ... to create a population which carries only the most desirable physical and behavioural traits and has the ability to pass on ...
In fact, many biologists believe that homo sapiens is not the final product of evolution. It is nothing but intermediary link between ape and super-man. The appearance of genetic engineering technology is actually puts people in position of semi-gods, which indicates the fact that the process of transforming man to super-man has already began. (2) It needs to be said that today, the public image of what genetic engineering stands for is rather negative. Many people consider it highly unethical to design human beings, although they can rarefy come up with a comprehensive answer why. It seems that their hostile attitude towards genetic engineering is deeply irrational.
Science fiction authors and movie producers exploit peoples irrational fears, in regards to this issue, in order to insure the commercial success of their books and movies. However, the emotional nature of fears related to genetic engineering does not deprive them of their validity. The movie Gattaca provides us with the answer why there is a widespread concern among people, regarding the moral implications of scientific progress in the future. In Gattaca, the future society is based on hierarchical principles, just as ours. However, only those people who were being born without genetic imperfectness are allowed to apply for the most prestigious jobs, such as astronauts. Movies main character, Vincent, dreams of becoming astronaut, but he is not eligible to even apply to enter Space Academy, because he has a heart condition, as a result of his parents deciding to leave everything in the hands of God, while they were conceiving him. Vincent switches his identity with Jerome Morrow genetically perfect specimen, for whom life has lost its meaning, after he failed to win first prize at swimming competition.
... improving the human race by depriving some people of their reproductive rights" (Reuterlinkextra). If genetic engineering persist, we will be performing a type ... the size of a penny. If genetic engineering lives up to, all of its hopes and dreams parents one day might be able ... up and make your dreams come true. "Drawing a tube of blood maybe an unfair way we judge people" (Kinsley 102). Insurance ...
After this, Vincent is being put through the series of trials and tribulations, during the course of which he manages to keep his identity theft uncovered, despite the impossible odds. In the end, Vincent accomplishes his dream and becomes astronaut, while Morrow commits suicide. The moral message of this movie is very clear people should not be genetically discriminated, because this is utterly unethical. Vincents biggest crime was his genetic hereditary and there was nothing he could do to realize his dream, except for breaking the law. In Gattaca, the world of tomorrow is shown as mechanistic society, where persons individual qualities do not have any value, unless they allow him to gain social prominence. Nevertheless, despite its strong anti-scientific message, movie describes genetic engineering as esthetically appealing practice.
Genetically perfect young people in the movie really do look perfect, at least in the physical sense of this world. In movie Minority Report, the plot revolves around the idea of future society being able to stop crimes, before they actually occur. Los Angeles police department relies on subconscious visions of three twins, who constantly dream about murder. These dreams do come true. If police officers are able to decipher them, they can prevent potential murderers from killing their victims. However, in order for the twins, who are referred to as precons, to have effective visions, they needed to be dehumanized. Precons are permanently submerged in watery solution.
Their visionary mode is induced by the powerful drugs. Basically, precons cannot be thought of as human beings, they are nothing but living machines that are meant to relieve the suffering of society at the expense of its own endless mental suffering. While watching Minority Report, we learn that precons DNA was being altered, because their parents were used in the series of scientific experiments, which involved testing a new psychotropic drug. Thus, viewers begin to doubt the notion that whatever serves the society is automatically good. There are also larger implications of movies main idea, which can serve as argument, when it comes to discussing the potential danger of genetic engineering. Minority Report promotes the idea of human life sanctity.
... to heal skin, which has been impossible until now, with Genetic-Engineering. I doubt that there have been any real disadvantages with ... the cow, and create new chemicals to heal people. This is a society where we need not worry about a plague affecting ... . Even though we have accomplished this in modern society, were still young in the genetic age of science. We have yet to ...
However, this is being done without referring to religious dogmas, which considerably increases the ideological value of this movie. Comparing to two previously analyzed movies, X-Men might appear as being semantically shallow. It is essentially action movie, with the bulk of its fans consisting of teenagers. Nevertheless, it also revolves around ethical problems, which are strongly associated with genetic engineering. X-Men tells the story of new specie emerging on Earth, called mutants. Mutants have amazing abilities, such as extraordinary physical strength or transparency. While having originated because of genetic mutation among humans, mutants seem to have a completely different mindset.
They defy the conventional morality and rightfully think that their biological superiority entitles them with special rights and privileges. Mutants begin open conflict with ordinary people, in order to take that they think belongs to them. X-Men is different from other sci-fi movies that discuss possible consequences of genetic engineering, because producers were able to look at the issue from different perspective. They do not doubt the fact that genetic engineering will increase peoples biological quality to such an extent that we could talk about emergence of a new sub-specie. Movie promotes the idea that ordinary people will be the ones most affected by it, because, according to the most basic law of evolution, biological progress is only possible through continuous transformation from simple living forms to more complex. When superior sub-specie emerges, it usually means the eventual elimination of simpler species.
Thus, we come to conclusion that if genetic engineering will be legalized, it is going to be only the matter of time, before the considerable portion of Earth population becomes a burden. This, of course, represents ethical challenge. (3) As time goes by, the topic of scientific engineering attracts the attention of more and more people. This topic is being exploited not just in sci-fi movies, but also in fiction books. One of the good examples is Scott Westerfields trilogy Uglies. In it, author describes futuristic society, where people are being taught not to have hateful thoughts. Westerfield tell us that future genetic engineers concluded that the basis of hateful felling is persons realization of its own physical inadequacy.
... biological factors. If a greater consensus of people were presented with the facts surrounding genetic engineering they would realise that this is our ... Cloning, [online]. Available From: http://members.tripod.com/~cloning/right.htm [1st March 2001] Healey K, 1994, Genetic Engineering: Issues For the Nineties ...
This is why, in Westerfields trilogy, all young people are required to undergo a plastic surgery, which turns them into beauty models. Thus, there is seemingly no reason for the people in Westerfields utopia, to be getting upset, because they all look beautiful and because all living necessities are provided to them free of charge by the government. However, books main character Tally, eventually learns a horrible truth beauty surgery actually involves a lobotomy. Peoples happiness is achieved at the expense of turning them into vegetables, without the ability of critical thought. In trilogy Uglies, genetic engineering is described as being the invention of some evil genius. It is clear that author simply has distaste towards political-correctness, which he sublimated into his book. It also seems to be the case with humanitarians who write about scientific matters. They know that every attempt to build a social utopia, has failed miserably.
At present time, they are witnessing the beginning of end of multiculturalism, which is nothing but another utopia, based upon wishful thinking. It is understandable, therefore, that many people feel skeptical towards genetic engineering. In 2005, Senate reenacted The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which prohibits health insurers and employers from asking or requiring a person to take a genetic test. If it was not up to this act, millions of Americans would not be able to apply for private health insurance. In her article Prohibiting Genetic Discrimination, Kathy Hudson states: In 1996, Congress specifically listed genetic information as protected health information and explicitly stated that a genetic risk factor for disease could not be considered a preexisting condition (Hudson).
... all these miraculous benefits, many people throughout the world feel that the issue of genetic engineering is absolutely preposterous and extremely ... .All the reasons to clone human beings. January 2000 http://www.humancloning.org/allthe.htm (7 Nov. 2000) Nelkin, Dorothy. ... B. Generically Modified Foods: Harmful or Helpful? April 2000. http://www.csa.com/hottopics/gmfood/oview.html(25 Oct. 2000 ...
However, the problem will not solve itself if we simply pretend that it does not exist.
Health insurance companies are well aware that genetic risk factor should be referred to as genetic predetermination factor, because it defines persons overall health condition more than anything else does. (4) To conclude this paper, we need to say that the genetic engineering is a comparatively new notion. We only began to learn the mechanics, behind DNA compositions. Therefore, it is only natural that many people remain skeptical towards the possibility of implying scientific knowledge to improve the life of their children, by the mean of genetic manipulation. However, real technological breakthroughs are always met with skepticism. When the first cars and motorbikes appeared on the streets of American towns, people used to refer to them as devil machines. Today, we cannot imagine how it is possible to live without them.
The same thing is going to happen with genetic engineering. Just as many times before, we get to hear about how wicked or ungodly this practice is. Bible thumpers threaten us with Gods wrath. We had heard it all before. However, as history shows, it is impossible to reverse the scientific progress. Marian Van Court in his article The Case for Eugenics in a Nutshell establishes a close link between eugenics and genetic engineering. He suggests that there is only one way to address the current socio-political problems in the world biological: Egalitarians take a circuitous route to solving social problems – they keep trying to change people by altering their environments. Despite witnessing their abysmal string of failures, our natural desire to alleviate suffering and improve the world persists. This desire finds new hope in eugenics based on science, not propaganda and wishful thinking. Eugenics takes the direct route.
It holds the unique potential of actually creating a better world, of making profound, concrete, lasting improvements in “the human condition” by improving human beings themselves (Van Court).
... majority of Catholic moral tradition predates genetic engineering by hundreds of years. Genetic engineering clearly offers new challenges for the ... 30). Not all risks of genetic engineering lie in the future. Today, genetic engineering is already being exploited and taken ... healing itself, doesn't deny the usefulness of genetic engineering as an extension of traditional therapeutic practices. " ...
It is true that there are many dangers, associated with genetic engineering. However, it does not mean that research in the field of genetics must stop. Today, 50% of American children have the tendency to gain excessive weight by the time they reach 12-13. This tendency is genetically predetermined. Would it be immoral for the government to invest more money into genetic research, so that the next generation of children might not suffer from being called fatso at school? It is obvious that manipulating with sanctity of life, when performed by scientists, has less harmful effects then when performed by God. Genetic engineering will become a part of everyday life in the future, whether Bible thumpers want it or not. It is already happening, as we speak.
Some people point out to the fact that eating genetically modified food is not healthy, however, they fail to understand that genetic modification of products is only the way to provide food to rapidly growing population of Earth. People want to be healthy and beautiful; therefore, it is only natural for them to wish for their children the same. In the near future, they will be able fill the notion of parental blessing with a real meaning, just as it shown in sci-fi movies, we have mentioned earlier. There can be only one real danger, associated with genetic engineering the possibility of it turning into a political tool. This is why, the hawks of political-correctness and Liberal politicians needs to be kept as far as possible from the scientists, because otherwise, it might be only the matter of time, before we will be asked to undergo a brain surgery, in order to get rid of hate and intolerance.
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1 Aug. 2007. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X-Men_(film) Abstract: This paper discusses possible benefits and threats that are related to genetic engineering. Outline: Introduction Genetic engineering in movies Genetic engineering in books and articles Conclusion.