the Boundary Between “Person” and “Product”


What will it be like to sit down with your spouse or significant other to lay out the design parameters for your offspring? Would not this very act, in itself, have the effect of crystallizing expectations and hopes about your children that would otherwise have remained tacit and inchoate? Does this not, ipso facto, increase your chances of being disappointed if the outcome turns out differently than you expected? What about if you and your spouse cannot agree? Do you compromise by swapping one trait against another, or perhaps by allowing one spouse priority in shaping the traits of one child, while allowing the other spouse to have the say in shaping the next kid? What effect would this subsequently have on family dynamics? And what would it be like, conversely, to know that your parents had sat down for that little planning session in the months before you were conceived? Would it feel like a strait jacket on your potential to be whatever you wanted—even if your parents never told you the specifics of the discussion?24 Would you resent your parents for providing you with traits you ended up disliking in yourself? Would you be jealous of your siblings, envious of the traits your parents selected for them, as compared with those selected for you? Would you wonder, over time, if your achievements really belonged to you, or were merely by-products of the engineering carried out on you by someone else before you were born? And wouldn’t your very ability to explore this question be constrained by the traits that would have been designed into your personality and cognitive profile? All these questions reflect the same basic fact: human genetic engineering would scramble, in profound ways, the categories of “person” and “product.”

more from Michael Bess at Hedgehog Review here.