Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Cory Christensen

 

Philosophy and the Movies

 

February 7, 2012

 

Issues with Gene Enhancement

 

In the movie Gattaca, we examine the possibility of genetic enhancement and the effects it would have on society.  Based on the information from Michael J. Sandel’s article, “The Case Against Perfection: What’s Wrong with Designer Children, Bionic Athletes and Genetic Engineering” and the movie Gattaca I will show what is wrong with genetic enhancement.

In the movie Gattaca, when a couple decides to have a baby, the doctor looks at all the flaws their child’s genetic code could have and tells the parents what could be done to fix them.  This creates a problem for those individuals who have not been genetically enhanced at birth, thus creating a lower class.  “According to this argument, genetic enhancements for musical talent, say, or athletic prowess, would point children toward particular choices, and so designer children would never fully be free” (Sandel).  In reference to Sandel’s statement, most children would be brought into this world with a predetermined future, which could cause the child to reject the destiny that his or her parents chose for them.  

Gene enhancement sounds great to a certain extent, especially with the option of stopping a disease your child could have before it is even born.  However, there is always that flip side because there are individuals who would enhance the child way beyond the norm. 

Other issues include gene enhancements being very expensive so only the wealthy would be able to purchase it, which, in return, would create an even greater barrier between the poor and rich than we already have now.  In this movie, for instance, the main character, portrayed by Ethan Hawk, was born naturally and was not enhanced at all.  His dream was to become an astronaut, and due to the way his society had evolved, they did not allow him because he was not physically fit enough, according to his genes.  Thus causing him to pose as another person who was considered “valid” according to the body fluid scans that he has to forge from the valid individual (Niccol).   All of which was considered illegal by society standards.  Just to further show the segregation that would occur from gene enhancement.  

            I could not have said this better myself but this statement says it all, “to acknowledge the giftedness of life is to recognize that our talents and powers are not wholly our own doing, despite the effort we expend to develop and exercise them.”(Sandel)

Basically one way to look at is that it would disturb this natural balance that nature has already created.  Let’s look at the world of sports for a second because right now when we see a good player we see hard work and dedication, and those are the key factors that brought this individual to achieve his amount of greatness.  If gene enhancement is thrown into the mix, it takes away that level of appreciation and the passion that is involved with heart filled stories that we have with these athletes, and the same thing goes for any other aspect of life.  In sports, if enhancement was allowed for all players, it could possibly turn into how the gladiators were in Rome, being kept as slaves and forced to fight for entertainment, creating another potential option for segregation once again. So far there are two potential options for segregation, which the rich only being able to afford enhancement and the possibility of athletes being produced for entertainment purposes.

Another point to look at is if we are allowed control to pick out the way our children appear and act. Don’t you think that we could eventually wipe out the characters that make us different from one another?  Granted, it could be beneficial because only good traits would be carrying on, instead of the unwanted traits.  I truly believe we would lose something that makes us individuals, and we would definitely lose a lot of creativity in life.  In a way, this reminds me of some of Plato’s theory or plans he had in “The Republic,” where sick and deformed children were discarded at birth for the sake of preserving a better race of people.  In a way, designing your children is not really much different than Plato’s theory because in today’s world most people would not agree with that method.  However, it does take place in some parts of the world with Chinese women aborting female children.     

Sandel talks about genetic discrimination like we have in Gattaca and reflects it upon today’s world on “how the fear of Insurance companies would use Genetic data to assess risks and premiums led the Senate to vote to prohibit genetic discrimination in health insurance.”  If we had perfect genetic control, it would eventually deplete the solidarity that comes from when individuals reflect on the contingency of their talents and achievements. 

Man’s desire to master the acts of god or nature has far too many consequences that could, and most likely would, develop. Already people are realizing it in today’s society as discoveries have been made such as the senate bill that passed April 2008 outlawing genetic discrimination in the workforce. This bill was ten years in the making according to a NPR article by Julie Rovner. 

I believe we should continue our work in genetics because it could be put to good use for healing and curing diseases.  However, we need to pay close attention to what is being done so things don’t get out of hand and push us even further away from our natural balance.      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work Cited

 

Niccol, Andrew, dir. Gattaca. 1997. Film.

<http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119177/&gt;.

 

Rovner, Julie. ” Senate OKs Bill Outlawing Genetic Discrimination.”

(2008): n. page. Web. 9 Feb. 2012. <http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89922198&gt;.

 

  Sandel, Michael. “The Case Against Perfection:Whats Wrong With Designer

Children, Bionic Athletes, and Genetic Engineering.” Ethical Issues In Modern Medicine. 7th n. page. Print.

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Good article!!!!

“…the victims, by their appalling ineptitude and timidity, virtually assisted in their own murders … But many men who are not cowards are simply unprepared for the fact of human savagery. They have not thought about it … they just don’t know what to do.”
Jeff Cooper, criminology

I state this quote as I begin my paper in reflection to the real world violence that was portrayed in Peter Berg’s film The Kingdom.

Health application are among us and their popularity is growing. I know personally because my girlfriend uses MyfitnessPal and that fine and all but im sick of hearing about the damn thing every five minutes. She has tried to get me to try it and honestly I don’t really care enough to record everything that I eat on my phone  I feel like it requires too much effort.
The reason I am stating this is because its hard to be specific about the foods that I attempt to enter in. This is coming from my perspective and I am not in terrible shape but its all about your own will power and I would rather rely on that than some form of technology to tell me how to live my life

However, I am not totally bad mouthing these type of apps, maybe it works for some people. Just don’t forget technology is not a necessity to live your life, people did live and prosper without it for thousands.

Stay posted my girlfriend is somewhat of a guinea pig for these apps, so I will state another post in time.

If you Do have it though it can definitely help!!!!!!!! That of course will remain true if it all doesn’t become regulated.  Like with what “they” are trying to do with everything.  Social media has changed our lives, whether you want to believe it or not.  Social media has reinvented social activism, for good and bad.  In a way I believe it has made us all a lot lazier.  Anybody can be a so-called Facebook warrior.  If you want to get out there and make something happen I believe it takes a lot more than that. It takes balls is what it takes!!!!!!

Coming from the thoughts of Malcolm Gladwell “When ten thousand protesters took to the streets in Moldova in the spring of 2009 to protest against their country’s Communist government, the action was dubbed the Twitter Revolution, because of the means by which the demonstrators had been brought together.”

Social media allowed the people of Iran to stand up for what they believed in.  However, to further compare social activism to social activism online, it seems that the social activism online is based upon weak ties.  Although though these weak ties have the potential to lead to high-risk activism.

Not to say I am bad mouthing social media in any way, it has its pros and cons just as anything else.  Just to show an example of the pros and cons Obama basically got elected because he utilized social media aspects better than any other candidates.

This is a very good way to look at the impact the internet has in our present digital age.

“It makes it easier for activists to express themselves, and harder for that expression to have any impact.” (Gladwell)

Gladwell states many key points to how the internet has affected the way people do things.  It has its pros and cons that is for sure.  However, in order for the good to continue to prosper we need to be able to continue using these social media tools and free networking aspects of the Internet without any Government oversight or regulation.
For a further understanding check out this article a “Small Change” by Malcolm Gladwell it will be well worth your while!!!!!!!

According to Steve jobs you need to “start with the customer experience and work your way back to the technology.”  He makes some good points in the speech he gave 15 years ago, I believe he has been true to his philosophy because I’ve seen these types of situations happen to apple and their products.  The achievements of apple are amazing, our lives have been forever changed by technology.  Although Jobs is dead, I believe he still has a few more surprises left for us with apple and we shall see technology grow from beyond the grave!!!!  Check out this video though so you can get some Apple philosophy.

Cory Christensen
Philosophy and the Movies
January 29, 2012

Individualism VS. Collective Groups

In reference to Ayn Rand, colleagues at the Ayn Rand University and myself, certain observations related to Rand’s theory of individualism over collective groups will be examined in relation to the Clint Eastwood Movie “Gran Torino.”
Ayn Rand’s view of individualism states that everyone needs to be viewed as an individual rather than a minority. Meaning that people should think and judge independently.  Collectivism on the other hand is the theory or practice that causes “some sort of group rather than the individual the fundamental unit of political, social, and economic concern”. When acting as a minority several problems can arise such as racism between these different minorities. This is the major theme in “Gran Torino.”  Edwin A. Locke makes a very good point of this when he states, “taking away jobs from one group in order to compensate a second group to correct injustices caused by a third group who mistreated a fourth group at an earlier point in history is absurd on the face of it and does not promote justice; rather, it does the opposite.”   Racism does not cure racism and racial harmony is what needs to be focused on.
Ayn Rand believes that people need to be viewed by their own individual merits rather than their color of skin. For example, in “Gran Torino” we have four minorities that butt heads with each other in this movie but to keep things simple I am only going to focus on three.  Clint Eastwood portrays the old, white, and racist vet from the Vietnam War.  The “Hmong” or Asian minority that moves next door to Clint, and finally the Latin American Minority, which is represented as a gang. From this being said there is a lot of racial tension from the beginning.
However, Clint, the main character soon grows to accept the Asian minority on terms of their individual merits and the minorities accept each other and form this racial harmony.  This was one of the main key points that show how Rand’s theory obviously works.
Moving on, with a primary example of racism within minorities and between other minorities.   In this movie there are two gangs, you have the Asian gang and the Latin gang.  Both of these gangs tend to harass one another especially when one is by himself or herself or outnumbered causing each individual to join with their fellow minority gangs.  This creates a violent tension between the two.   One particular boy is Asian and refuses to join the gang of his specific minority, thus causing a violent tension within his own minority thus bringing danger not only to themselves but to Clint and surrounding minorities as well.
This further proves that minority distinction creates a lot of problems such as gang violence, stereotypes, and hatred.  It creates this stereotypical image that makes you automatically assume that all the people of a particular minority act in certain ways, usually focusing on the negative aspects and feeding the hatred between them.  It also creates lots of problems in the justice system with racial profiling with specific minorities.

When in reality there is to an extent certain stereotypes that tend to be true but not every individual of a specific minority is true to them.  In return, this further proves that individual merits need to be focused upon rather than just the minority as a group.
Not that minorities sticking together is always a bad thing, only when violence takes place, but minorities need to stick together to preserve their culture so it can be passed on from generation to generation.
Rand herself believed that the American society was founded upon individualism and we need to continue to focus on everyone’s individual rights.  I mean after all isn’t America about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
Once again, this movie has several key points that prove Rand’s theory.  The first being that Clint looked past his previous racist minority view of the Asians next door and accepted them individually and even became closer to them then his own family.  The second states that minorities create violent tension between different minorities and also problems within specific minorities themselves.  Collectivism creates many problems within society moving us further away from our individual rights that America was founded on to begin with.
Therefore I would have to agree with Ayn’s belief of individualism over collective minorities because more problems are derived when we focus on minority groups.  Even though some minority groups have had it worse than others in the past, if something was done about it today it would create discrimination against the other minorities because one would be favored over the others.  Besides the majority of the people alive today had nothing to do with the mistreatment of those minorities who were done wrong in the past.

Works Cited

Eastwood, Clint, dir. “Gran Torino.” Writ. Johansson, Dave, Schenk Nick. DVD.

Locke, Edwin. “Individualism–The Only Cure for Racism.” (1997): 1-2. Print.