Genetic Engineering

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What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of designer babies?

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This is a very serious social issue, or at least it may become a serious social issue as our ability to choose our kids’ genes becomes more advanced.  There are some real dangers that go along with doing this.

The upside of this is very clear.  If we can have “designer babies” we can improve our children’s life chances.  We would, of course, choose to have our children be intelligent.  We would choose to have them look nice.  We would choose to have them be athletic.  All of these things would, presumably, make life easier for them.

However, there are a number of social issues that would arise if this sort of thing became common.  First, there is the ethical issue of whether it is right to choose our children’s lives for them in these ways.  It seems that we would be depriving them of the right to be who they want to be.  Second, this could quickly lead to terrible inequalities.  The rich already have advantages in that they can send their children to better schools than the poor.  With this technology, they would also be able to buy their children better genes.  Their children would be innately better than the children of the poor.  This would seriously widen the gap between rich and poor and, perhaps, make it insurmountable.

Thus, if this technology ever becomes available, we will have to think very hard about what limits we might want to place on it.

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