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Title: Germline cognitive and moral enhancements : an exploration of their potential impact on distributive justice and a case for their incorporation into the Rawlsian political conception
Authors: Fernandez-Garcia, Cristina
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: The possibility of genetically intervening in the genome of future people has sparked fears about the potentially negative impact of such interventions on social justice. The risks of unequal access to these novel technologies, coupled with the dangers of the re-emergence of eugenic policies, have been thought to be too great to ignore. Should these fears become reality, we will be in danger of creating new social inequalities or of exacerbating those already prevalent in modern society. The aim of this thesis is to provide a comprehensive analysis of the impact on distributive justice of germline cognitive and moral enhancements, and to explore how these technologies can become part of the Rawlsian account of justice. From a biological perspective, we do not choose who we are. It is widely accepted that our genetic make-up is at least partly responsible for the kinds of people that we are and that it can have a marked influence on who we become and on our share of social primary goods. Because of this “genetic lottery”, inequalities in access to opportunities invariably exist. Recent scientific advances, however, may provide us with valuable enhancements, particularly to our cognitive and moral capacities, that could be used as tools to re-dress these inequalities. Indeed they might even help to promote the goals sought by the Rawlsian theory of justice. This thesis shows how the justice arguments usually presented against enhancement technologies can be addressed from within a society governed by the Rawlsian principles of justice. Furthermore, the enhancement of cognitive genetic traits, in particular those involved in the development of fluid intelligence, could broaden the range of opportunities open to citizens and increase the social product available for distribution under the dictums of the difference principle. The moral permissibility of germline enhancements designed to augment the capacities for empathy and a sense of fairness is supported by the contribution they make towards securing the stability of the Rawlsian society. If these technologies present no moral issues apart from distributional concerns, a society that is governed by the Rawlsian principles of justice would therefore benefit from allowing cognitive and moral enhancements of the human germline.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:Institute of Health and Society

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