Imposing Genetic Diversity

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Robert Sparrow

Tag(s): Journal article


The idea that a world in which everyone was born “perfect” would be a world in which something valuable was missing often comes up in debates about the ethics of technologies of prenatal testing and preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). This thought plays an important role in the “disability critique” of prenatal testing. However, the idea that human genetic variation is an important good with significant benefits for society at large is also embraced by a wide range of figures writing in the bioethics literature, including some who are notoriously hostile to the idea that we should not select against disability. By developing a number of thought experiments wherein we are to contemplate increasing genetic diversity from a lower baseline in order to secure this value, I argue that this powerful intuition is more problematic than is generally recognized, especially where the price of diversity is the well-being of particular individuals.

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