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Ben Allred

7/30/15
BIOL-1090-Su15-Timmins
Taking Sides Assignment
Our genes determine arguably more than half of what makes us, us. They are the building
blocks that map out our physical and intellectual traits, and they are often regarded as
unchangeable, however, advancements in the scientific community have implied that someday,
relatively soon, editing our genes will be a very plausible and common practice. This editing or
enhancing of our genetic buildup will give way to millions of possibilities, ranging from simply
allowing us to change undesirable features about ourselves, or the more practical use of curing
previously incurable diseases such as Alzheimers. With these advancements also comes
questions regarding the morality of it all. This essay will summarize and evaluate Michael J.
Sandels argument against genetic enhancement, as well as Howard Trachtmans argument in
favor of it.
Michael J. Sandels article is entitled The Case Against Perfection, and its primary
claim is that the accessibility to genetic enhancements influences us to have less appreciation for
life, and results in a damaging attempt at human mastery. The article starts off by stating that
with the rise of new technology comes the need for certain questions regarding a moral nature to
be presented in the equation. The article lists different categories where genetic enhancement
could potentially be applied; muscles, memory, height, and sex selection. It then goes on to
acknowledge what potential benefits genetic modification could grant to each of these categories.
For example someone suffering from muscular dystrophy could be reversed with the use of gene

enhancement. This would be a positive advancement in the scientific industry. The controversy
comes in when the question of what other purposes would this technology be used for, or who
else would this be used on? It mentions the possibility of aspiring athletes taking advantage of
this technology to become physically superior over people who do not use it. This could lead to
some issues, however, whos to say this technology can only be used by the disabled or the
disadvantaged? The same scenario is presented in the memory group. Someone suffering from
Alzheimers disease could potentially have their memory restored, but this same technology
could also be used by someone trying to cram their brain for an upcoming exam. Where should
the line be drawn? The next two categories, height and sex selection, present another issue with
genetic enhancement. Parents could someday have the option of choosing the sex as well as the
physical traits they wish their child to have. This makes having children feel more like buying
the product with the best features rather than being open to the uniqueness and uncontrollable
nature of a newborn human being. This leads the article to its main point, which is that the
accessibility of genetic enhancement will only hinder the growth that comes from the realization
that not everything can or should be controlled.
The article in favor of genetic enhancement is titled A Man is a Man Is a Man by
Howard Trachtman. This article gives a rebuttal to the previous article by giving a different look
on genetic modification. It starts off by stating that we never truly have control over our lives or
the environment, and that perfection does not actually exist. As long as there are people, science
will continue to improve, and people will continue to learn and grow. With that being said, the
use of genetic enhancement is just another way in which we can improve and grow. The
possibilities that could arise from such technology have an immense potential, and it would be
almost silly not to take advantage of it. It goes on to say that every useful utility can be misused

or abused. For example, The abuse of erythropoietin by athletes does not detract from the
qualitative improvement in the lives of patients with end stage renal disease who are treated with
this drug. (Trachtman). The actions of people wanting to use a tool for pleasure or personal gain
should not inhibit those who truly need it from obtaining it. The article ends by stating that
genetic enhancement is another tool that can be useful to some, but can be abused by others.
This leads me to ask the question, is genetic enhancement an unacceptable use of
technology? I would like to firstly point out that both arguments present well-constructed points
that both deserve an equal amount of attention and evaluation. The first article covered how the
use of genetic enhancement could result in parents adopting a different view of their children.
Instead of seeing them as unique human beings, they could instead be viewed as works of
creation that required rigorous improving and editing before achieving perfection. This would be
a negative, and hopefully avoidable, byproduct of genetic engineering technology. Another
perspective change, as a result of genetic engineering, would be peoples outlook on life. I do
think that people will still acknowledge the fact that not everything is controllable, and that there
will always be room for improvement and growth, but the commonality of genetic engineering
will certainly give change to how society functions, and will redefine certain values that we hold.
This isnt necessarily a bad thing, but the change will be dramatic. Overall, I would have to agree
more with the article in favor of genetic engineering. I think the technology should be made use
of if it ever does reach that point. There are so many varying applications, and so many people
who could truly benefit from this technology. I think the focus of this technology should not be
to create humans with abnormal strengths and abilities, but rather to hone in on those who suffer
from a genetic disease. Of course, like with drugs, there will always be those who seek to use
these tools for their own personal enjoyment, but this certainly does not mean that we should just

throw it all away. I think the positive results of such a technology would far out way the negative
ones.

Works Cited
Sandel, Michael J. "The Case Against Perfection." Biology 1090, Human Biology Salt Lake
Community College Taking Sides Readings. McGraw-Hill Education, 2015. 42-47. Print.

Trachtman, Howard. "A Man Is a Man Is a Man." Biology 1090, Human Biology Salt Lake
Community College Taking Sides Readings. McGraw-Hill Education, 2015. 48-51. Print.