At 09:28 PM 10/27/98 -0800, Hal wrote:
>Suppose a ship is being launched to the stars, at relatively slow speeds,
>which will take centuries to make the journey. Even with longevity and
>hibernation, it is likely that children will be born, just as have been
>born on other migrations. This is part of the historical pattern of life,
>and doesn't seem to raise new ethical problems.
>Bringing kids into such an environment dooms them to life in space
>as certainly as biologically adapting them would. If we accept the
>historical precedent for parents to have children in environments which
>limit their choices, shouldn't we accept that modifying them is equally
If a whole bunch of people are going into space for a long journey to another star, then it may sense for them to have children with no legs (or extra arms). Given that these people are entering a different environment, they would be *increasing* their children's abilities and fitness. Certainly I don't see a major objection to this. (Possible objections: It makes far more sense to upload for an interstellar trip to save huge amounts of energy: maybe the ship should be spun for gravity and normal children produced to avoid cultural problems.) The engineered children are being given the maximum opportunities for the situation they will be born into.
This is different from the case as described by Pizulli. The legless people may be well adapted for a space voyage. But they may not want to go on the voyage. Then, they either must compelled or conditioned into going (both of which I find ethically unacceptable), or they will stay on Earth and find themselves physically disadvantaged.
In one case, given that you're going on the trip, you are maximizing your engineered children's choices and abilities. In the other you are reducing them, perhaps drastically (if they are forced to go). So I see these as essentially different cases from a moral point of view.
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