Human genetic engineering may soon be possible. The gathering debate about this prospect already threatens to become mired in irresolvable disagreement. After surveying the scientific and technological developments that have brought us to this pass, The Ethics of Genetic Engineering focuses on the ethical and policy debate, noting the deep divide that separates proponents and opponents. The book locates the source of this divide in differing framing assumptions: reductionist pluralist on one side, holist communitarian on the other. The book argues that we must bridge this divide, drawing on the resources from both encampments, if we are to understand and cope with the distinctive problems posed by genetic engineering. These problems, termed "fractious problems," are novel, complex, ethically fraught, unavoidably of public concern, and unavoidably divisive. Berry examines three prominent ethical and political theories – utilitarianism, Kantianism, and virtue ethics – to consider their competency in bridging the divide and addressing these fractious problems.
The book concludes that virtue ethics can best guide parental decision making and that a new policymaking approach sketched here, a "navigational approach," can best guide policymaking. These approaches enable us to gain a rich understanding of the problems posed and to craft resolutions adequate to their challenges.
'A lawyer and philosopher by training, Berry skillfully negotiates complicated and theoretically dense issues by bringing a broad range of political philosophers and ethicists into meaningful dialogue … As the promise of this powerful technology becomes a reality, the questions Berry asks will become ever more important for us to contemplate. Her book offers an excellent resource for those interested in getting a head start.' – Erica K. Rangel (St. Louis University), The American Journal of Bioethics
'Roberta M. Berry has written a creative book on how ethics can inform individual decisions and social policy on human genetic engineering … There are two qualities that distinguish this book from the pack. First, the author has a richer understanding of of ethical theory than most writing in the field of "genome ethics." She uses a broad tapestry of ethical theories as lenses for analyzing problems. And second, Berry applies a creative form of dialogue … From a teaching standpoint, Berry's dialogues will be useful in reaching students who may have difficulty in applying ethical theory to contemporary problems.' – Sheldon Krimsky (Tufts University), Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
CHAPTER 1: GENETIC ENGINEERING: PAST AND PRESENT
AS PRELUDE TO THE FUTURE
CHAPTER 2: UTILITARIANISM AND ENGINEERING TO MAXIMIZE
CHAPTER 3: DEONTOLOGY: ENGINEERING AT THE EDGES OF
DISEASE, DISABILITY, DIFFERENCE, AND DEATH
CHAPTER 4: VIRTUE ETHICS AND ENGINEERING
FOR THE VIRTUES
CHAPTER 5: GENETIC ENGINEERING, FRACTIOUS PROBLEMS, AND
A NAVIGATIONAL APPROACH TO POLICYMAKING