The Ethical Aspect of Genetic Control
The purpose of this paper is to examine some beliefs about the ethical justification of negative eugenics, i.e. a policy of limiting the frequency of childbearing by women prone to give birth to children with genetic defects. The main thrust of the paper is to define and defend of a particular duty v i s – á – v i s the future generations, viz. the duty to provide the future persons with healthy genetic endowment. In the first part of the paper the concept of the ‘obligation to future generation’ is considered. In the second part the putative right of children to acquire healthy genetic endowment is critically assessed from the moral point of view. The author focuses on important reservations concerning moral rights of not even potentially existing persona and the subsequent difficulty in establishing when such rights are infringed. The last part of the paper deals with the possibility of justifying our moral obligations to the future generations by consulting our direct moral duties, and bypassing the controversial issues of the rights of non-existent persons. The author concludes: one of the most credible methods of justifying the objectives of negative eugenics is the acceptance of the depersonalized version of the utilitarian principle (also called globally conceived principle of utility) which stipulates that the sum of pain in the world be minimized and the sum of happiness be maximized. In the same vein the traditional concept of the ‘sanctity’ of human life should be revised in the light of the principle that human life presupposes consciousness and dignity. When these two assumptions are made, it can be shown that due to the application of genetic control the future generations will live a happier life and suffer from fewer diseases than they would if we decided to ban genetic control.