Parental genetic shaping and parental environmental shaping

Philosophical Quarterly 67 (267):20-31 (2017)
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Analytic philosophers tend to agree that intentional parental genetic shaping and intentional parental environmental shaping for the same feature are, normatively, on a par. I challenge this view by advancing a novel argument, grounded in the value of fair relationships between parents and children: Parental genetic shaping is morally objectionable because it unjustifiably exacerbates the asymmetry between parent and child with respect to the voluntariness of their entrance into the parent–child relationship. Parental genetic shaping is, for this reason, different from and more objectionable than parental environmental shaping. I introduce a distinction between procreative decisions one makes qua mere procreator—that is, without the intention to rear the resulting child—and procreative decisions one makes qua procreator-and-future childrearer. Genetic shaping is objectionable when undertaken in the latter capacity: Both selection and enhancement are objectionable because they introduce an unnecessary and avoidable inequality in the parent–child relationship; in the case of enhancement, this also results in harm to the future child.
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