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Compassion Is More Important Than Diversity

18 February 2019
Giulio Prisco

Compassionate Doctor

An international team of researchers, led by University of Geneva and Oxford University scientists, has been examining the ethical issues arising from human enhancement technologies. Their conclusions, published in Nature Human Behaviour, highlight "the conflict between individual and collective well-being, together with the important role governments have to play."

"One of the great unresolved ethical enigmas is how to reconcile the interests of the individual and those of society in the event of conflict," says Julian Savulescu, professor at the Centre for Practical Ethics at Oxford University. "Human improvement technologies require policy makers to find a certain balance. Collective effects are important and we can’t just let the market decide."

Despite the lip service paid to the interests of the individual, the attitude of these bioethicists and their conclusions seem to me dangerously skewed toward protecting the "society" (or, more accurately in my opinion, the preconceptions of these bioethicists) against individual autonomy.

For example, a bioethicist involved in the study says: "If parents were able to choose certain traits for their baby, such as muscle strength, eye color or intelligence, this could have a severe impact on human diversity."

The fallacy of this argument is evident. Future gene editing technology could reduce susceptibility to cancer and other cruel diseases. That would certainly reduce human diversity in some ways, because more people would live long healthy lives and less people would suffer from painful diseases and die young. I think this would be unambiguously good, but these bioethicists seem to be saying that human diversity is more important.

This shows not only lack of common sense, but also lack of human compassion.

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