Genetic Enhancement and the Child’s Right to an Open Future

Phenomenology and Mind 19 (19):212 (2020)
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In this paper, I analyze the ethical implications of genetic enhancement within the specific framework of the “child’s right to an open future” argument (CROF). Whilst there is a broad ethical consensus that genetic modifications for eradicating diseases or disabilities are in line with – or do not violate – CROF, there is huge disagreement about how to ethically understand genetic enhancement. Here, I analyze this disagreement and I provide a revised formulation of the argument in the specific field of genetic enhancement. First, I argue that CROF is not in contrast with every kind of enhancement. I subsequently discuss whether CROF requires some moral obligations to enhance progeny. My argument is that parents do not have the moral obligation to open as many options as possible for their children. Rather, they should provide them with a reasonable range of opportunities. Finally, I contend that the moral obligations required by CROF are directly dependent on what Allen Buchanan calls the ‘dominant cooperative framework’ in a given society. I conclude by claiming that, at present, parents are not morally obliged to genetically enhance their children since a non-enhanced person already might have access to a reasonable range of opportunities. However, the moral obligation to enhance progeny might arise if a structural modification of the dominant cooperative framework occurs.

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Davide Battisti
University of Bergamo


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