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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Just Genes by Carol Isaacson Barash

I recently read a book on genetic technology. It had its flaws, but I found it to be interesting. Here are a couple of quotations from it:

. . . ethical debate, launched by Dolly and encouraged by science-fiction stories, has changed over the past decade. What didn't happen was the birth of a cloned child or widespread public demand for the use of cloning for human reproduction. Instead the debate is far more complex, rooted in the reality of scientific research, including a merging of the debate into the sphere of embryonic stem cell research. Nonetheless, and as is typical with demonstrated technologic advances, many of the questions about whether we should clone surfaced only after the appearance of Dolly, not before. Knowing that we can use cloning clearly raises deep questions about whether we ought to. And ought we at all? Or for some purposes not others? And soon we are immersed in a quagmire of ethical concerns. Science, however, is way in front of moral debate, which raises its own ethical concerns. Should science continue unchecked, because it can demonstrate what is and isn't feasible and thereby clearly frame our ethical concerns? Carol Isaacson Barash, Just Genes: The Ethics of Genetic Technologies. (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008, pp. 190-191)

Critics, primarily those who question the validity and utility of the entire genome enterprise (human, vertebrate, invertebrate, and plant), contend that 47 million people in the United States have hardly any access to basic, let-alone sophisticated medical care. This population is unlikely to have access to customized medicine* if health care is delivered in a free market. Carol Isaacson Barash, Just Genes: The Ethics of Genetic Technologies . (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2008, p. 129)
*Barash means treatment prescribed depending on the phenotype (expression of genes) of the recipient.

A couple of interesting thoughts.

Thanks for reading.


Rob Rumfelt said...

I don't believe science should ever be allowed to proceed unchecked. Again, this could lead to a purely utilitarian approach to life.

Read Dean Koontz' "One Door Away From Heaven," for an entertaining, and horrifying, look at what utilitarianism can lead to.

Besides, it's a great read!

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks for the recommendation, and the comment, Rob!