Associate Professor of Philosophy examines impact of genetic enhancement on those with disabilities

Dr. Christopher Riddle

Are efforts to create the "perfect" human harmful to future generations and people with disabilities?

Are efforts to create the "perfect" human harmful to future generations and people with disabilities?

Those are some of the questions that Utica College Associate Professor of Philosophy Dr. Christoper Riddle and Queen’s University’s Jeremy Butler tackle in “Obsolescence, Genetic Treatment, and Disability” published this Summer in The American Journal of Bioethics.

The article relates to discussions by Robert Sparrow (professor in the philosophy program, a chief investigator in the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science, and an adjunct professor in the Centre for Human Bioethics at Monash University) where Sparrow argues that genetic enhancement will generate a variety of individual and social pathologies whenever the rapid improvement of enhancement technologies results in previous enhancements becoming outdated or obsolete.

“We suggest that Sparrow’s discussion resembles many disability-rights critiques of efforts to offer genetic treatment to minimize or eliminate impairment in people with disabilities, but that neither of these concerns is usefully captured under the concept of obsolescence,” writes Riddle and Butler. “In particular, his discussion concerning the psychological and social consequences of what he calls obsolescence - the harmful impacts of feeling and being seen by others as genetically antiquated or outdated - relates quite closely to dominant disability-related critiques of genetic treatment for impairment.”

"Obsolescence, Genetic Treatment, and Disability" can be found in Volume 19, Issue 7 of The American Journal of Bioethics, released June 25, 2019.

You can read the full article at The American Journal of Bioethics.

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