Posts Tagged ‘rights’

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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