How to Play the “Playing God” Card

Science and Engineering Ethics:1-17 (forthcoming)
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When the phrase “playing God” is used in debates concerning the use of new technologies, such as cloning or genetic engineering, it is usually interpreted as a warning not to interfere with God’s creation or nature. I think that this interpretation of “playing God” arguments as a call to non-interference with nature is too narrow. In this paper, I propose an alternative interpretation of “playing God” arguments. Taking an argumentation theory approach, I provide an argumentation scheme and accompanying critical questions that capture the moral concerns expressed by “playing God” arguments. If I am right, then “playing God” arguments should be understood, not as a warning to leave God’s creation or nature alone, but rather as an invitation to think carefully about all the ways in which the use of new technologies could go seriously wrong.
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Playing God? Human Genetic Engineering and the Rationalization of Public Bioethical Debate.Berkman, John; Hauerwas, Stanley; Stout, Jeffrey; Meilaender, Gilbert; Childress, James F. & Evans, John H.

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