'My child will never initiate ultimate harm': An argument against moral enhancement

Ryan Stewart Tonkens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Recently, there has been a lot of philosophical work published on the morality of moral enhancement. One thing that tends to get overlooked in this literature is that there are many different potential methods of morally enhancing humans, and a blanket moral assessment of them may not be warranted. Here I focus on one mode of moral enhancement, namely, prenatal genetic moral enhancement, and offer a normative assessment of it. I argue that there is good reason to adopt a parentcentred perspective (as opposed to a social or statecentred perspective) towards the ethics of prenatal genetic moral enhancement, and, once we do so, that there is good reason to argue that prenatal genetic attempts at moral enhancement are morally problematic and ought not to be pursued. The main reasons for this have to do with the nature of moral enhancement research, and the idea that prospective parents are justified in not assuming that their children will be morally depraved. I leave it open as to whether other modes of morally enhancing humans fare better, morally speaking.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245 - 251
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Medical Ethics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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