“Let’s Make the Future” presents: Deafness and Genetic Engineering

Possession is nine-tenths of the law, they say. Unsurprising, then, are the polemics of jurisdiction over genetic material.

A question like that posed by the Journal of Medical Ethics — “If [genetic preimplantation] could be employed to produce deaf children, would it be acceptable for deaf parents to do so?” — is well-suited for philosophy, which treats the premise underlying the question (e.g. well, what do you mean by “acceptable?”). Philosophy also allows us to take a step back from personal beliefs we harbor as facts, like the idea that it’s better to be hearing than deaf. Ideas are innocent until proven guilty, and you have nothing to lose from taking them to philosophical court: walk away either with a legitimized stake in your position, or a chance to be acquitted for unknowingly abetting a crime.

If you had the power to choose, which genetic traits would you omit from our genome? Do you trust that your choice would inoculate humanity against the gamut of its faults? On the March 18, 2018 episode of “Let’s Make the Future,” Professor and Bioethicist Teresa Blankmeyer Burke treated our perceptions of a “perfect human” with a healthy dose of doubt.

Join us in our discussion of the factors shaping this superhuman debate.

Teresa Burke LMTF

Thank you to Michael Currie, who made the transcript available on Medium. Access it here.

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