The Moral Argument For Human Cloning, Genetic Enhancement

Philosopher Julian Savulescu Makes The Case For Playing God

October 18, 2015

Scientists are on the cusp of developing new technologies that could radically change how we’re born and how we die. For instance, by tinkering with specific genes, we might be able to eliminate the risk of diabetes or Alzheimer’s disease. Most likely, we could also create smarter and more beautiful babies. But just because we can do it, should we? As you can imagine, this scientific frontier poses all kinds of thorny ethical questions. And for lots of people, it’s just plain wrong for humans to play God.

But Oxford University bioethicist Julian Savulescu has a different view. He says we have a moral obligation to use new technology to create the best possible children. Steve Paulson recently sat down with Savulescu to talk some of these hot-button issues, from eugenics to human cloning.

A version of this interview also appeared in Nautilus magazine.


can't wait to use this in my high school bio class!

Neither the interviewer not the eugenics expert who advocates designer babies asked what I consider the most important question: Who can pay the cost of selecting such attributes as high intelligence and great beauty for his/her unborn child? We already have a society in which we call the rich "the beautiful people" due, in large measure, to their ability to pay for beautiful clothing, hair styles, private exercise trainers and plastic surgery. Do we really want to intensify that trend?

I second Claudia Reed's position.
Why are we being encouraged to listen to authorities such as Mr. Savulescu tell us that we need to tweak the authority abused by totalitarian states such as Nazi Germany in order to give more authority to a plutocracy that already imagines itself the master race.
Mr. Savulescu certainly destroys his moral authority with me-- [never mind his Oxford nominatives]-- and TTBoOK diminishes it's moral authority when they broadcast such toxic nonsense.
Both TTBoOk and Mr. Savulescu abuse the power inherent in their public profiles by fabricating fantasies about the grim facts of our genocidal history and presenting these fantasies as foundations for a new utopia.

I agree with Claudia and Sanford, for reasons they have well explained.
I am absolutely flabbergasted that a program like TtBoOK would conceive and produce this piece without once broaching the real issue. Cost. That one factor will determine who will benefit from these scientific advancements; the ultra wealthy.
In a world that already runs on the premise of 'if you can't afford it you don't deserve it', the genetic enhancement of a human fetus is just another tool the rich will use to dominate a civilization when they have already shown that they can't advance it equitably. The love of money is truly the root of all evil.
TtBoOk is new to my public radio station, and this incredibly tone-deaf piece does not argue well for my future support.

I do agree with you in the main about this piece, and the reprehensible lack of ethics behind it. The interviewer hardly broached the question of Eugenics in the 20th century, leading to the barbarism of the Nazi death camps. Nor were the very salient topics of racism, ageism, sexism and elitism broached, other than with a most cursory reference. What I do not agree with you about is that the topic should not have been aired. I do believe that with rigorous questioning this smug young "moral" philosopher could have been exposed as the ugly brutal thinker that he is. I would hope that TTBook will give equal air time to an opposing point of view in the near future.