Germ-Line Genetic Enhancement and Rawlsian Primary Goods

  title={Germ-Line Genetic Enhancement and Rawlsian Primary Goods},
  author={Fritz Allhoff},
  journal={Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal},
  pages={39 - 56}
  • Fritz Allhoff
  • Published 23 March 2005
  • Philosophy
  • Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal
Genetic interventions raise a host of moral issues and, of its various species, germ-line genetic enhancement is the most morally contentious. This paper surveys various arguments against germ-line enhancement and attempts to demonstrate their inadequacies. A positive argument is advanced in favor of certain forms of germ-line enhancements, which holds that they are morally permissible if and only if they augment Rawlsian primary goods, either directly or by facilitating their acquisition. 

Genetic Enhancement: Plan Now to Act Later

  • M. Mehlman
  • Medicine
    Kennedy Institute of Ethics journal
  • 2005
It is important to consider now what restrictions would be appropriate, how they would be imposed, and what changes would be needed in existing laws and institutions to facilitate them.

Genetic Engineering and the Consent of Future Persons

The debate over whether germ-line genetic engineering is justified on the basis of the consent or presumed consent of future generations is mired in philosophical confusion. Because of this, the

Seeking Perfection: A Kantian Look at Human Genetic Engineering

  • M. Gunderson
  • Philosophy
    Theoretical medicine and bioethics
  • 2007
It is tempting to argue that Kantian moral philosophy justifies prohibiting both human germ-line genetic engineering and non-therapeutic genetic engineering because they fail to respect human

Justice in the Genetically Transformed Society

  • C. Farrelly
  • Philosophy
    Kennedy Institute of Ethics journal
  • 2005
This paper explores some of the challenges raised by human genetic interventions for debates about distributive justice, focusing on the challenges that face prioritarian theories of justice and

On the Very Idea of Genetic Justice

  • M. Loi
  • Medicine
    Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
  • 2011
Unequal access to preimplantation diagnosis could give some individuals the opportunity to select children with more advantageous predispositions.


The ethical questions surrounding the intentional manipulation of genes to achieve phenotypic modifications in humans are examined to examine whether the technology of genetic engineering itself, once it is to a reasonable level proven both safe and effective, is ethical to use.

The Ethics of Genetic Cognitive Enhancement: Gene Editing or Embryo Selection?

Recent research with human embryos, in different parts of the world, has sparked a new debate on the ethics of genetic human enhancement. This debate, however, has mainly focused on gene-editing

Luck, Genes, and Equality

  • D. Fox
  • Philosophy
    Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics
  • 2007
If the authors agree with Rawls that some measure of safe and effective genetic intervention may be required as a matter of justice, it stands to ask how the distribution of genetic goods – that is, the hereditary basis of human traits – should be carried out.

Could Genetic Enhancement Really Lead to Obsolescence?

Sparrow (2019) supposes that CRISPR and related gene-editing technologies will lead to rapid and continuous enhancement of human capacities through genetic modifications through genetic modification.

The Better I Can Be: In Defence of Human Enhancement for a New Genetic Equality

The main objection to genetic enhancement is that it will create a “genetic apartheid,” deepening existing inequalities. This paper offers considerations that can weaken the inequality argument



Ethical issues in manipulating the human germ line.

  • M. Lappé
  • Medicine
    The Journal of medicine and philosophy
  • 1991
Using new genetic technologies to select desirable genotypes among gametes is less problematic and affords a promising new technique for avoiding intergenerational harms.

Genetic Enhancement in Humans

Based on the recent history of transgenic experiments in animals, the prospects are much less rosy than portrayed, and even successful efforts could not affect human evolution.

The Goodness of Fragility: On the Prospect of Genetic Technologies Aimed at the Enhancement of Human Capacities

  • E. Parens
  • Philosophy
    Kennedy Institute of Ethics journal
  • 1995
Beginning with the assumptions that genetic technology will make possible the enhancement of some significant human capacities and that our society will have self-evident reasons to pursue such

Can enhancement be distinguished from prevention in genetic medicine?

  • E. Juengst
  • Medicine
    The Journal of medicine and philosophy
  • 1997
It is argued that a line can be drawn between prevention and enhancement for gene therapy (and thus between properly medical and nonmedical uses of gene therapy), but only if one is willing to accept two rather old-fashioned claims.

25 Ethical Issues in Human Gene Transfer Research

The autumn of 1995 celebrated a number of important anniversaries for the ethics of human gene-transfer research, with R.D. Hotchkiss set the tone by concluding his prescient prediction of genetic interventions the authors are now capable of performing by prescribing.

From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice

The meaning of genetic causation, by Elliott Sober, and the morality of inclusion and policy implications are examined.

Access to the Genome: The Challenge to Equality

This engaging and accessible book focuses on some of the broader social and economic implications of the Human Genome Project and suggests that genetic technologies present a threat to the foundations of most Western democratic societies.

Molecular genetic studies of cognitive ability.

The evidence of a substantial genetic contribution to cognitive ability is now convincing, the next challenge is to locate and identify the genes involved and allow rapid screening of the whole genome for quantitative trait loci.

The ethics of human gene therapy

The correction of single-gene defects in humans by gene therapy is in sight, increasing the need for a solid framework for ethical evaluation, according to a report published in The Lancet Oncology.

Enhancing human traits : ethical and social implications

In this volume, scholars from philosophy, sociology, history, theology, women's studies, and law explore the looming ethical and social implications of new biotechnologies that are rapidly making it