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Publisher's Summary

Already technology enables parents to select some genetic traits for their children, and soon it will be possible to begin to shape ourselves as a species. Countering loud cries of alarm, bioethics expert Ronald Green explains why our fears about genetic engineering are overblown and how we can move forward responsibly to create a better future.

©2007 Yale University Press (P)2007 Yale University Press

Critic Reviews

"In this clear-eyed and generally optimistic book, both promise and risk are ably weighed and balanced. The science is clearly explained, and there are signposts to help guide us through the moral maze." ( The Economist)

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Strong on the science, weaker on the ethics

This is an accessible and informative book an interesting biological problem.

The author has clearly put effort and thought into the "ethics" aspect, but I feel like he doesn't have the philosophical background to do it justice. For example, he tends to call controversial things "ethically dubious" or that something is "a serious concern" merely because it's unpopular. These are appeals to popularity on the one hand, and avoid confronting uninformed, irrational public opinions using science. I suspect this populist bent is intended to avoid bristling readers with a bias against genetic engineering. I don't agree that watering down is the best strategy here. If I were writing this book, I would have said "some people see this thing as ethically dubious and here's why they're incorrect" and "something has been called a serious concern by people who make the following mistake". Being confrontational is not worse than being disingenuous.

He develops an ethical framework that distinguishes interventions that fight disease from interventions that provide enhancement. This distinction is unhelpful because "disease" and "enhancement" include baggage like status quo bias and naturalness bias. He does better on the topic of safety, where there is an objective medical reality to point to.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-16-17

A very balanced, NON-TECHNICAL overview.

If you are even remotely interested in a very NON-TECHNICAL overview of both the myriad benefits & potential pitfalls of genetic engineering, cloning & eugenics then I would highly recommend this book for you. By the authors own assertion it is his intention to "disturb your preconceptions" regarding the above topics. He does an outstanding job! Not since I read the book "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind" (also HIGHLY recommended) have I encountered an author that was so thoroughly & fairly balanced on so many contradictory & conflicting issues. This publication would likely assist an individual whose position rested on any point of the moral spectrum both to firm up their own view as well as to gain an invaluable perspective of the other side of the issue. Because let's face it - barring the end of civilization as we now know it - this technology WILL advance whether we desire it to or not. Like all advances the genie can never be put back in the bottle; our ONLY recourse is to determine HOW we want to utilize &/or regulate it. The future is already here; how it unfolds will greatly depend on our own actions or apathies.