Re: the "not to be born" right

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Sat Nov 18 2000 - 03:28:35 MST

"J. R. Molloy" <> writes:

> Anders Sandberg asks,
> > ...should parents be allowed to add any "enhancement genes"
> > to their children?
> Why not? In the US, parents (in this case, irresponsible dolts) are
> allowed to bring children into the world even though they (the parents)
> haven't the means to support or properly nourish the children.

I think most of us on this list think that germline modifications
should be allowed. But some modifications may not be particularly
desirable for the person one he/she/it grows up (like an outre skin
color, hardwired sexual preferences or a "natural" lifespan of 45
years). Clearly we are not in favor of *all* modifications, and the
question is what ethical and legal rules we would like to see in this
area. Most bioethics has been of the "just say no to germline
engineering!"-style so far, to my knowledge there has been less
studies of a transhumanist approach to what changes are good, bad and
should be allowed or disallowed.

One ethical principle I have been thinking of is reversibility:
genetic modifications that have reversible effects (e.g. controllable
using artificial hormones) should obviously be OK, since if you don't
like them you can always switch them off at a low cost.

Another is flexibility: changes that increase the available range of
potentially desirable options are preferable to changes or states with
more limited options.

Dave Sill <> wrote:

> Should they also be able to sue if their parents don't add certain
> enhancements?

I guess that under the current US system (+ such modifications) that
would be a possibility too. I guess that if parents had the
opportunity (and money) to fix a broken gene but didn't, then they are
responsible for the possible illness that could result. Of course, if
you mix in religious freedom here things get iffy, I don't know what
supercedes what here.

When you come to positive enhancements, it is not clear to me that it
makes sense to sue for (say) not getting the Adobe Biosystems
Creativity Gene 4.2 since it was just one option among many. If the
majority of people get intelligence upgrades for their children but
the person that sues didn't, then there might be more of a case - but
can you sue your parents for sending you to a bad school or college if
they could afford a better one? (a roughly equivalent situation) I
doubt that (but then again, the wonderful world of US litigation
appears to be as much as a wonderland where anything can happen as
mythical Hollywood from this side of the atlantic).

Here in Sweden the question is academic of course, since even if you
won you would not get much money at all.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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