The Magazine

And Baby Makes Four

Is it ethical to make three-parent babies?

Sep 2, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 48 • By BRENDAN P. FOHT
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A common rhetorical strategy for defending controversial new biotechnologies is to point out that there are plenty of things we already do that are morally problematic and to argue that, for the sake of consistency, we should accept the new technology as well. Consistency is obviously important, but we should strive to be consistently good, not consistently base, and we should not assume that our horror at something new is ill-founded simply because we realize that what we find horrible is already all around us. 

The repugnance that we feel when we contemplate new biotechnologies that violate the natural order of the family may indeed be, as Leon Kass famously argued, a source of deep wisdom that can help guide us through the possibilities that the future has in store. As we consider the mixed blessings of the biotechnology project that society has already grown to accept, we should reflect on how our reactions to what seems shocking and new can bring renewed clarity to the moral meaning of what has become all too familiar

Brendan P. Foht is assistant editor at the New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society.

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