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Rationality and the Genetic Challenge
Making People Better?

Part of Cambridge Law, Medicine and Ethics

  • Date Published: February 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521757133

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  • Should we make people healthier, smarter, and longer-lived if genetic and medical advances enable us to do so? Matti Häyry asks this question in the context of genetic testing and selection, cloning and stem cell research, gene therapies and enhancements. The ethical questions explored include parental responsibility, the use of people as means, the role of hope and fear in risk assessment, and the dignity and meaning of life. Taking as a starting point the arguments presented by Jonathan Glover, John Harris, Ronald M. Green, Jürgen Habermas, Michael J. Sandel, and Leon R. Kass, who defend a particular normative view as the only rational or moral answer, Matti Häyry argues that many coherent rationalities and moralities exist in the field, and that to claim otherwise is mistaken.

    • Separate introductions for genetic practices and philosophical considerations help the reader keep the different dimensions analytically separated
    • Introduces only one main ethical consideration with the introduction of a new scientific or medical practice, allowing the reader to gain a thorough picture of the practice and of the nuances of the ethical argument
    • Each chapter begins with a one-sentence summary of its contents, giving the reader an orientation to the text ahead
    • Summaries bring all the ethical considerations together, helping the reader see what has been claimed in the book and how these claims have been supported
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Häyry gives us a masterful topography and analysis of the philosophical and ethical questions raised by attempts to 'make better future people and to make existing people better.' Anyone who is interested in the challenges posed by genetics (and who wouldn't be?) - from educated lay persons to professionals in the field - will find this a must read by one of today's most outstanding philosophers.' Thomasine Kushner, University of California, Berkeley

    'Hayry's book will be incredibly useful for those who are baffled by the complex, contentious, and at times confused discussions of genetic issues; for those deeply immersed in these discussions, it provides a model for a respectful, reflective, yet critical discussion, which is increasingly hard to find in the field of bioethics. The underlying theme of the work presents a remarkable message for bioethicists and the public at large, namely that the rancor and contention that is a hallmark of so much debate would be better replaced with the kind of Colleridgean 'disinterested interest' to allow the issues to be more rationally assessed. In this regard, the book might well be read not only for the ethical issues in the new genetics, but for the underlying methodological approach. Since either the treatment of the genetic challenge or the methodological approach to complex bioethical issues is worth the price of this volume, this book should be read with alacrity.' George J. Agich, Bowling Green State University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2010
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521757133
    • length: 286 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 153 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.45kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Seven ways of making people better
    2. Rational approaches to the genetic challenge
    3. The best babies and parental responsibility
    4. Deaf embryos, morality, and the law
    5. Saviour siblings and treating people as a means
    6. Reproductive cloning and designing human beings
    7. Embryonic stem cells, vulnerability, and sanctity
    8. Gene therapies, hopes, and fears
    9. Considerable life extension and the meaning of life
    10. Taking the genetic challenge rationally.

  • Author

    Matti Häyry, University of Manchester
    Matti Häyry is Professor of Bioethics and Philosophy of Law at the University of Manchester and Professorial Fellow at the University of Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Finland.

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