Books

Choosing Children by Jonathan Glover

John Lanigan considers problems Jonathan Glover has with Choosing Children.

This book is a lucid account of many of the issues surrounding genetic intervention and the possibilities it has opened up for the future of humankind. To what extent should we use genetic engineering and genetic selection to fix the characteristics of our children before they are born? In his first chapter, Jonathan Glover, Professor of Medical Ethics at King’s College, London, discusses the ways in which ‘disability’, which genetic intervention (GI) may aim to overcome, could be defined. Glover has no prejudice concerning what is termed the ‘expressivist’ view, ie the idea that ‘normal’ people neither know nor have any right to judge that what seems to them a disadvantaged life is somehow less rich than their own. Nevertheless, Glover concludes that on balance there are no a priori reasons to reject the use of GI either to overcome disability or to promote enhanced human flourishing for a ‘normal’ foetus or implanted embryo. Furthermore, this promotion of human flourishing needn’t necessarily exclude ‘non-medical’ interventions to produce ‘designer babies’.

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