Lead Investigators Lori Knowles and Erik Parens
2001 07 01 2004 06 30 Principal Investigator Erik Parens Funder National Endowment for the Humanities Purpose Explore the ethical issues raised by, and make recommendations regarding, surgeries aimed at
An increasing number of biotechnologies offer ways of "enhancing" people. Examples are cosmetic surgery, gene therapies, performance drugs, and psychopharmacological agents such as antidepressants. This supplement tries to clear the conceptual ground for assessing such enhancements. It considers a range
Prenatal screening for "disabling" genetic traits seems self evidently good to some people. But the disability rights movement has criticized such testing as morally problematic and driven by misinformation about what it is like to live with a disability. This
This four part report aims to help readers understand what geneticists believe they have discovered about how genetic differences are related to observed, or "phenotypic," differences. It also helps readers contemplate what those findings might mean for how we think
This project examines the rationales offered for classifying certain technologies that enhance athletic performance as either ethically justifiable and thus consistent with the values and meaning of sport, or unethical and therefore appropriately prohibited in competitive sport. Gr
By Susan Gilbert
Last October, the state of Queensland in Australia made it illegal for teenagers under eighteen to have cosmetic surgery. Other governments may soon follow. Germany is drafting a similar law, and advocates in the Netherlands are calling for one there. The trend reflects the tremendous growth in the number of minors having these procedures—and in the number of parents who are consenting to them, paying for them, and sometimes seeking them out. Earlier generations of children and teenagers had surgery to correct abnormalities such as cleft palates and protruding ears. Nose jobs arguably fell into this category, too. Today, things are different. The goal in many cases isn’t to look normal; it’s to look better than normal. The bar that justifies permanently altering a child’s physical nature may have reached an all-time low.
By Gregory E. Kaebnick
This issue of the Hastings Center Report features a set of essays that comes out of a Hastings Center research project, “The Ideal of Nature: Appeals to Nature in Debates about Biotechnology and the Environment,” for which I was the principal investigator. The essays approach the question about nature obliquely. The set turns the problem around in the light, looking at it from different perspectives and showing different facets—bringing to the printed page the multiple voices that characterized the meetings.
Hastings Center Report
By Gregory E. Kaebnick
Leon Kass has become infamous for asserting that a visceral emotional reaction may sometimes provide moral guidance. “In crucial cases,” Kass once wrote, “repugnance is the emotional expression of deep wisdom, beyond reason’s power fully to articulate it.” We may be repelled by something—cloning is Kass’s subject here—“because we intuit and feel, immediately and without argument, the violation of things we rightfully hold dear.” These statements have been widely and sharply ridiculed. The thesis of this article, however, is that moral judgments depend, at bottom, on how we respond emotionally to the world around us; the idea of a purely rational approach to morality is an oxymoron.