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Ethical Concerns Raised by Genetic Reductionism

The massive Human Genome Project to map every human chromosome will shortly be completed, a great advance in our knowledge. But it carries with it the danger that we may oversimplify our view of the human being. A one-dimensional string of code is a long way from a complete account of a person. The most obvious problems raised are:

a) those within the insurance industry, since knowledge of a person’s DNA could lead to predictions as to what illness they might have in twenty years’ time, irrespective of the character of the person or the nature of their lifestyle

b) the temptation to suppose one could necessarily produce a ‘better’ human being by altering the genes of an embryo and implanting it into a mother (currently a prohibited practice in the UK and US) - thus altering forever the genetic inheritance of that person. As Ian Barbour points out, ‘Some of the indirect consequences of (such) intervention might be harmful, delayed and irreversible.’Barbour, I, Ethics in an Age of Technology (London: SCM Press, 1992) p196. See God, Humanity and the Cosmos pp377-82 for further discussion of ethical questions raised by the new genetics.

Email link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr. Christopher Southgate
Source: God, Humanity and the Cosmos  (T&T Clark, 1999)

Reductionism and Theology

Index - God, Humanity and the Cosmos, 1999 T&T Clark

Ethical Concerns Raised by Genetic Reductionism

Related Book Topics:

Can Reductionism Rule Out Truth in Religion?
Can Darwinism Rule Out Truth in Religion?
Richard Dawkins and E.O.Wilson Against the Possibility of the Truth of Religion
An Examination of Reductionism
The Concept of Emergence
The Particular Case of Genetic Reductionism
Criticisms of Genetic Reductionism Within Science
Cross-Explanatory Reductionism


Dr. Christopher Southgate in God, Humanity and the Cosmos.Published by T&T Clark.

See also:

What Religion Can Learn From Science
Books on Science and Religion