The Lives to Come: The Genetic Revolution and Human Possibilities
The Lives to Come is at once a concise and accessible guide to the research that scientists are conducting in the field of genetics, a realistic survey of the likely near-term contributions of that research to the treatment of disease, and a thoughtful probing of the deep moral and social issues raised by our increasing abilities to predict the onset of hereditary disease and to make decisions about the kinds of people who will be born. A distinguished scholar of the history and philosophy of science, Philip Kitcher insightfully addresses the practical and philosophical questions posed by the explosion of new discoveries in the field of genetics. As our ability to determine whether individuals are at risk for various diseases and disabilities increases, will medical treatments keep pace? Could widespread use of genetic tests lead to new forms of discrimination in insurance, employment, and how people are viewed by society? How can genetic knowledge improve law enforcement while protecting the rights of the innocent? As prenatal testing provides new opportunities to select the types of people brought into being, how can the abuse of that power be prevented so that we avoid the evils of the eugenic past? If scientists discover a genetic basis for traits deemed socially objectionable, might abortion become a tool for avoiding the birth of "undesirables"? To what extent do new discoveries support the idea that our destinies are written in our genes? More fundamentally, what will become of our self-image as we find out more and more about the mechanisms of our bodies and our brains?
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In the early 1990s, several books appeared discussing the promise and pitfalls of the human genome project, the international plan to map human DNA. Now, a second wave of titles makes it clear that ... Read full review
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