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Prof: We have a “moral obligation to select ethically better children” through genetic screening


Presumably followed by abortion.

In “Genetically engineering ‘ethical’ babies is a moral obligation, says Oxford professor” (Telegraph, 16 Aug 2012), Richard Alleyne reports,

Professor Julian Savulescu said that creating so-called designer babies could be considered a “moral obligation” as it makes them grow up into “ethically better children”.

The expert in practical ethics said that we should actively give parents the choice to screen out personality flaws in their children as it meant they were then less likely to “harm themselves and others”.

The academic, who is also editor-in-chief of the Journal of Medical Ethics, made his comments in an article in the latest edition of Reader’s Digest.

“Indeed, when it comes to screening out personality flaws, such as potential alcoholism, psychopathy and disposition to violence, you could argue that people have a moral obligation to select ethically better children. …”

Well, eugenics, “the best organized philanthropic project of all time” is back, having failed to learn a thing.

A friend writes to say that “Professor Julian Savulescu is an embarrassment to Oxford. Or perhaps Oxford has declined more than I had realized.” None of which means that the fellow would necessarily lack influence.

Predictably, Savulescu is an atheist.

It’s unclear why Savulescu thinks that bad people such as ourselves would be inclined to engineer “good” babies, as opposed to whatever kind we want. What we can’t or won’t raise, we are unlikely to engineer either.

On the other hand, if ethics is an illusion, as many Darwinians claim, it all works – because “good” has no independent content. It is merely a word used for effect.

See also: G. K. Chesterton on scientism

We are made in gods image and nothing about us is related to biology. Intelligence, morals etc. i understand this idea was very popular in the 1930's and somewhat implemented . They never give up this conclusion because its based on evolutionary presumptions. So Hitler and company's ideas were acceptable more because of acceptance of evolutionary biology ideas. Evolution was to blame for ideas that one can make better better by selection of parents and so on. Forcing this was a next step and is not the fault of evolutionary biology. Yet this Prof shows how force could be based on moral obligation ideas. How would this prof have done if his parents/he were selected ?? Robert Byers
I see it as a foolish mistake to believe that we are better than nature.
We can make nature better.
But we seem to cause problems whenever we do so .
Because people had too many kids who not selected to be ethically better. :roll: Joe
No matter the argument you can count on one thing. If someone first pines about "moral obligations" and thereafter makes any statement such as "They are, after all, less likely to harm themselves and others."? Then they're not after anything "voluntary", they are after legal force and direct criminality if you should not deign to permit the state to decide who gets to be a person. Not a person as citizen, or person as permitted to vote and choose their betters. But person as such. If it were otherwise then it would not be a "moral obligation to abort for ..." but a "moral obligation that the government allow us our own choice." The notions as expressed are an exhibition of sociopathy. A terrible illness that makes you a harm to yourself and others; and often has genetic markers that increase its risk. But of note is that Doctor Mengele of the article isn't proffering himself to drink hemlock from his own cup. No surprise there; for sociopaths the rules apply to other people. Maus
I think the biggest problem here isn't the person's opinion - there are enough dumb ideas to go around. The problem is that this is the editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics. In other words, this is the person who is shaping the discussion about ethics in the academic communities. This person is the one who will choose to accept or pass for publication ideas on ethics. This is the big problem. johnnyb
I disagree with Savulescu. I see it as a foolish mistake to believe that we are better than nature. Yes, we often act in ways to improve on nature. But we seem to cause problems whenever we do so (global warming is but one example of the problems that we cause). Neil Rickert

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