Utilitarian Approach to Genetic Enhancement.


Added on  2022-09-13

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Utilitarian Approach to Genetic Enhancement
Utilitarianism is a moral theory that helps in defining the right action as acts that helps in
maximizing the comprehensive health and wellbeing of humans. Faria et al. (2016) It is
regarded as one of the dominant moral theories and has cast significant influence over the
bio-ethical debates. Under certain instances, the moral theory of utilitarianism departs from
the traditional moral aspects of the bio-ethical problems. Regarding genetic engineering,
utilitarianism mainly supports the concept of genetic enhancement as it provides
opportunities to an individual or group of individuals to enjoy their best lives. The following
essay aims to critically analyse the role of utilitarianism behind justifying the act of genetic
enhancement. In doing so, the essay will also highlight certain counterarguments that will
refute the concept of genetic enhancement in light of deontology. Thus, the main theoretical
framework that will be used in this study is utilitarianism and arguments will be undertaken
with the help of deontology. And I will argue that the theoretical framework of utilitarianism
is an effective framework that helps to provide proper justifications of the approaches taken
towards genetic enhancement.
The traditional concept of utilitarianism was first formulated by Jeremy Bentham that
was later modified by John Stuart Mill during 19th century (Craig 2005). According to the
utilitarian approach, actions taken are right as they tend to generate greatest degree of
goodness for the greatest number of people, and wrong as they try to promote exactly
opposite (Becker 2001). Utilitarianism thus can be defined as a form of consequentialism.
Not all consequentialists can be regarded as utilitarian, however, all utilitarians can be
regarded as consequentialists. Utilitarianism is a theory of maximization or can be defined as
a theory of right actions and correct policies that assist in achieving the greatest degree of
happiness. The issue of sentience is extremely important in any ethical theory (Petrini

2010).In particular, the problem of sentience is vital in the utilitarian approach as a majority
of utilitarians consider the ability to experience pleasure or pain as two of the important
factors for the assessment of utility. Numerous contemporary philosophers and ethicists are in
line with the utilitarian theories. The theory of utilitarianism seems to be important for
maximizing the overall goodness for the highest number of people. Nevertheless, under
several circumstances, maximization of benefits ofthe mass over the single person might lead
to the generation of conflicts in the domain of justice, honesty and fairness and environmental
justice. The main argument against the utilitarianism is its intrinsic injustice (Petrini 2010).
The theory of utilitarianism mainly considers the total amount of good, however, it fails to
analyse how this good is distributed. Furthermore, one cannot measure benefits based on a
single domain especially where financial investment is involved. Improvements in the
healthcare conditions for the better of the patient can never be measured in the same way as
saving or extending life (Petrini 2010).
According to the theory of deontology, the act of good is known by its consistency
with the moral principles and rules. According to the Kantian theory of deontology,
emphasizes is given over the connection between the morality and reason (Craig 2005).
According to Kant, reason is what differentiates human beings from the rest of the animals, is
the one what makes man a subject of the moral law. Since man is a moral agent, he or she
must be held responsible for his actions. The theory of Kant mainly objects the concept of
consequentialism. However, Kant’s theory never states that the consequences should or can
be ignored. The relevance of consequences comes into action only if the proposed actions are
permissible morally (Petrini 2010). Kant’s theory states that the consequences become
relevant if and only of the proposed actions are permissible morally. Kant also states that the
actions are right or wrong intrinsically irrespective of their consequences (Petrini 2010).
Genetic enhancement refers to the technologies that are used to modify the somatic
cells of humans. However, genetic enhancements do not modify the germline cells. Germline

cells carry sexual traits and helps in the gender determination. It is different from somatic
cells that have physical traits. Thus, genetic enhancement mainly excludes curing genetic
defects. Moreover, correction of the genetic defects through the germ line theory also raises
serious morale conflicts (Ablieieva 2018). The debate over the host of the moral issues state
that genetic enhancement technology (GET) is a significant concern. One argument against it
is, the said theory has advanced to impugn its moral legitimacy. This encompass “unfair
advantage argument”. This states that enabling access to GET must be determined with the
help of socio-economic status that would lead to the development of unjust outcomes like
creation of a genetic caste system along with the exacerbation and perpetuation of the pre-
existing inequalities in the socio-economic domains. Anomaly (2020) has recently posed
objections to this argument and the centre of which is that it conflates the comprehensive
application of the technology with its overall distribution. In the domain of GET, the author
argues that GET might lead to the generation of unjust outcomes if and only if it is distributed
according to the principle of an unequal pattern of distribution. If one can determine what
leads to the generation of the distributive scheme, then the proper application of the
technology can be done depending on the scheme Etieyibo (2012). Batrićević and Littvay
(2017) stated that if one accepts that it is wise to prevent the overall unjust just because few
of the rich individuals from higher socio-economic status have access to GET then help to
reduce discrimination and health-related inequality. Etieyibo (2012) argued, a diverse ranging
scheme at times violates the common shared value of the neutrality in the liberal democracies
to a certain extent.
According to the modern concept of utilitarianism, human well-being deals with
obtaining a high quality of life (Walczak 2017). According to the ideal utilitarianism
approach, what matters more is not happiness or getting what a person wants but doing
worthwhile things. Thus, under thus aspect, it can be stated that genetic enhancement helps in
improving the overall health and well-being and merely the prevention of certain disease for

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