Cosmetic Genetics and Virtue-Based Restraints on Autonomy
The American Journal of Bioethics, Volume 10, Issue 4.
Laurence B. McCullough
There are persistent tendencies in the bioethics literature to be
imprecise about what “enhancement” means, to treat genetic enhancement
as ethically sui generis. “Enhancement” in general means the
improvement of human anatomy and therefore human appearance and of
human physiology and therefore of human performance from the baseline
of congenital anatomy and physiology. Such improvement can be
undertaken for purposes of preventive medicine, i.e., improving human
anatomy or physiology to reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity,
disability, pain, distress, or suffering in a population of patients.
By its very nature, preventive improvement appeals to the ethical
principle of beneficence (McCullough and Chervenak 1994),
so some forms of enhancement are beneficence-based. Mortality,
morbidity, disability, pain, distress, and suffering that result from
pathology such as infectious disease are statistically abnormal and
generally disvalued departures from what is valued as normal anatomy
and physiology. When Fan addresses genetic improvement of physiology,
i.e., genetically engineered improved immune response to infectious
diseases, he is invoking beneficence-based genetic enhancement.
Read the article.
(My publication)Posted: Monday, April 19, 2010