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Human Flourishing in an Age of Gene Editing$
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Erik Parens and Josephine Johnston

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190940362

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190940362.001.0001

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Whose Conception of Human Flourishing?

Whose Conception of Human Flourishing?

(p.201) 14 Whose Conception of Human Flourishing?
Human Flourishing in an Age of Gene Editing

Dorothy Roberts

Oxford University Press

The argument that having certain genetic traits and not having others (whether as an individual or as a species) increases well-being assumes an understanding of what it means for humans to live well—to flourish. Yet the concept of human flourishing that undergirds this claim tends to import socially biased assumptions about what human flourishing means. In particular, it promotes the traits of socially advantaged groups and focuses on individual enhancement rather than social change. By assuming a concept of human flourishing that privileges these interests, arguments in favor of gene editing can reinforce socially unjust hierarchies and distract us from what we know are flourishing’s most powerful predictors. For a full and just deliberation of the ethics of human genetic modification, therefore, the perspectives of groups that are disadvantaged most by social inequalities must be centered in defining the meaning of human flourishing.

Keywords:   flourishing, gene editing, social inequality, social change, social bias, race, gender, disability

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