Tag: scientific ethics


This is Modern Ethics

Over at the Atlantic, there is a piece on how we could bioengineer humans to resolve the global warming problem. Not that I’m convinced the “global warming problem,” is real, a problem, or human induced —but let’s ignore that, and focus in on the solutions proposed by philosophers and ethicist who do believe in the global warming bogeyman. After all, the things these folks would like to do to “solve” global warming are things they consider to be ethical and reasonable in general, and once aired will be taken up to “solve” any number of other problems humanity might face in the near future.

The suggestions in the article, based on a piece who’s lead author is S. Matthew Liao, a professor of philosophy and bioethics at New York University, range from the bizarre to the insane. For instance, humans should be modified so they have an aversion to meat, because meat is a large part of the carbon footprint. Or humans should be bioengineered to have “cat eyes,” so we won’t need so much light, reducing the need for electricity.

But the article also exposes the Professor’s view of other humans to the harsh light of reality.

First, modern ethics believes it’s fine to treat humans as malleable objects to be modified for the greater good of society at large. The only worth of an individual, in this view, is within the context of a community.

The reason we are even considering these solutions is to prevent climate change, which is a really serious problem, and which might affect the well being of millions of people including the child.

Second, modern ethics believes that humans are perfectible, if only we can find the right way to go about it. Since strict government control by the enlightened doesn’t seem to have worked, we should try bioengineering.

What we have in mind has more to do with weakness of will. For example, I might know that I ought to send a check to Oxfam, but because of a weakness of will I might never write that check. But if we increase my empathetic capacities with drugs, then maybe I might overcome my weakness of will and write that check.

Should we object to these views of humanity, the Professor has the perfect answer already ginned up: you should be grateful I chose to let you live.

With selection you don’t really have the issue of irreversible choices because the embryo selected can’t complain that she could have been otherwise—if the parents had selected a different embryo, she wouldn’t have existed at all.

To paraphrase the good Professor, “I killed all your brothers and sisters, and I can kill you, too.”

The only antidote to these lines of reasoning lies within the concept of image deo —human beings were created in the image of God, and therefore ought to be respected in the same way God respects (and loves) us. We are not here to mold our fellow human beings into writing checks to Oxfam (a hard left wing organization, of course), but to develop relationships with God and men, to love as God loves.

The Professor’s view of humanity is more like what a farmer thinks when he drives by a field of cattle.

“Just think what I could do with that breeding stock.”

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