Genetic modification

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L133-2
Version: v2,  Published online: 2020
Retrieved April 20, 2021, from

References and further reading

  • Aquinas, T. (c. 1225–74) Summa Theologiae, 5 vols. United States: Ave Maria Press (2000). (Considered one of the most important works in the history of medieval philosophy and theology. Within the work, Aquinas sets out the existence of there being an independent and objective natural law.)

  • Asch, A., and Wasserman, D. (2015) ‘Reproductive Testing for Disability’, in Routledge Companion to Bioethics, ed. J.D. Arras, E. Fenton, and R. Kukla, London: Routledge, 417–432. (Synthesises the critique of prenatal testing from the perspective of disability rights scholars. Asch and Wasserman critique the provision of prenatal care by claiming it perpetuates misconceptions about living with disability. They make suggestions as to how better reflection on disability can be incorporated into health care.)

  • Baylis, F. (2017) ‘Human Nuclear Genome Transfer (So‐Called Mitochondrial Replacement): Clearing the Underbrush’, Bioethics 31(1): 7–19. (Baylis argues against a need for mitochondrial donation (mitochondrial replacement) as a method to avoid the birth of children who will go on to develop mitochondrial disease. She considers this claim in light of broader debates on reproductive technology.)

  • Blackford, R. (2006) ‘Sinning Against Nature: The Theory of Background Conditions’, Journal of Medical Ethics 32(11): 629–634. (Blackford critiques prevailing conceptions of nature and considers an alternative account, which involves defining background conditions to human choice and seeing something as being against nature when it threatens those conditions. While this account can help explain objections that a technology is against nature, it does not justify them.)

  • Boorse, C. (1977) ‘Health as a Theoretical Concept’, Philosophy of Science 44: 542–573. (Influential paper in philosophy of science, concerning the nature of health and disease. Boorse argues that health, considered as the absence of disease, can be conceived as value-free rather than value-laden. He relies on an appeal to biological functionality and statistical species-typical norms of this function.)

  • Chapman, A.R. (2003) ‘The Implications of Inheritable Genetic Modifications for Justice’, in Designing our Descendants: The Promises and Perils of Genetic Modifications, ed. A.R. Chapman and M.S. Frankel, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 130–155. (Chapman considers the nature of justice and applies it to a variety of uses of inheritable genetic modification in humans, including human enhancement. A main contention of the chapter is that despite the often-noted caveat that genetic modification should not be introduced unless it were done equitably, this will be difficult to achieve. As such, Chapman urges that on justice grounds, genetic modification should not proceed.)

  • Fricker, M. (2007) Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing, Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Fricker develops her in-depth account of epistemic injustice, including identifying and explicating testimonial injustice and hermeneutical injustice. It focuses on problems such as power imbalances when it comes to gaining knowledge, and the discriminatory impact this can have (among other wrongs). Fricker develops an account of testimony that draws on virtue ethics, leading to the proposal of virtues to prevent epistemic injustice from occurring.)

  • Harris, J., and Holm, S. (1999) ‘Precautionary Principle Stifles Discovery’, Nature 400: 398. (Two bioethics academics discuss how the precautionary principle has gained prominence but remains problematic on numerous grounds, including that it will lead to ‘paralysis’ in the adoption of new technologies (including genetic modification).)

  • Hughes, J. (2006) ‘How Not to Criticize the Precautionary Principle’, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 31: 447–464. (Hughes considers in detail various forms of the precautionary principle. He considers that certain formulations do have problems, but that this does not mean that all forms of the precautionary principle should be rejected. A weaker form may be helpful in practice.)

  • Hume, D. (1739, repr. 1978) A Treatise of Human Nature, ed. L.A. Selby-Bigge and P.H. Nidditch, Oxford: Clarendon Press. 2nd edition. (Hume’s work is considered one of the most influential in the history of philosophy. Hume argues for a sceptical rejection of dogma, and the adoption of philosophical empiricism. Under this approach, philosophy and science should be founded on empirical investigation into human nature.)

  • Juengst, E. and Moseley, D. (2019) ‘Human Enhancement’, in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. E.N. Zalta. (Comprehensive overview of philosophical and ethical debate on human enhancement. Includes an account of the goals of medicine, the treatment/enhancement distinction and implications for authenticity.)

  • Kaebneck, G. and Jennings, B. (eds) (2017) ‘Recreating the Wild: De-Extinction, Technology and the Ethics of Conservation’, Hastings Center Report 47: S2–S64. (Special supplement of the Hastings Center Report, with contributions from numerous scholars to consider philosophical and ethical aspects of using genetic modification in de-extinction.)

  • Mill, J.S. (1874, rep. 2009) ‘Nature’, in Three Essays on Religion, ed. L.J. Matz, Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press. (British Empiricist John Stuart Mill closely argues against Natural Law theories, particularly as the basis for ethics. Instead, he offers an early account of his utilitarian approach to ethics.)

  • Newson, A.J., and Wrigley, A. (2017) ‘Is Mitochondrial Donation Germ-Line Gene Therapy? Classifications and Ethical Implications’, Bioethics 31(1): 55–67. (The authors synthesise the attributes of somatic and germline gene therapy and critically consider these definitions in light of the reproductive technology of mitochondrial donation. They propose conditional inheritance and consider the ethical implications this classification gives rise to.)

  • Norman, R. (1996) ‘Interfering with Nature’, Journal of Applied Philosophy 13(1): 1–11. (Norman offers an account of the ‘interfering with nature’ problem that renders it amenable for use in medical practice. He then applies this account to relevant examples.)

  • Nuffield Council on Bioethics (2018) Genome Editing and Human Reproduction: Social and Ethical Issues, London: Nuffield Council on Bioethics. (Report from a non-government bioethics agency, which considers the use of genome editing techniques in human reproduction. One of the first such reports globally to cautiously endorse genome editing for this purpose, subject to numerous conditions.)

  • Parfit, D. (1984) Reasons and Persons, Oxford: Oxford University Press. (In this highly influential work of later twentieth-century Philosophy, Parfit covers issues of ethics, rationality and personal identity. It is divided into four parts. The final part, on our responsibility towards future generations, advances arguments concerning the Non-Identity Problem and its application.)

  • Rappert, B., and Selgelid, M.J. (eds) (2013) On the Dual Uses of Science and Ethics: Principles, Practices, and Prospects, Canberra: ANU Press. (An edited collection considering the ethical and practical elements of the dual use problem. Contributions consider this problem in numerous contexts, discuss relevant ethical principles and frameworks, and consider practical aspects.)

  • Rasko, J., O’Sullivan, G., and Ankeny, R. (eds) (2006) The Ethics of Inheritable Genetic Modification: A Dividing Line? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Edited collection that considers the science and ethics of genetic modification in humans. Includes chapters on animals, disability, and feminist accounts, among others.)

  • Resnik, D.B., and Langer, P.J. (2001) ‘Human Germline Gene Therapy Reconsidered’, Human Gene Therapy 12: 1449–1458. (Discusses several conceptual distinctions in the gene therapy debate, including boundaries between treatment and enhancement, somatic and germline and between genetic and genomic. One of the first papers to suggest the term ‘genome modification’ for humans.)

  • Scully, J.L. (2008) Disability: Moral Bodies, Moral Difference, London: Rowman & Littlefield. (In this preeminent work on the place of disability in bioethics, Scully brings together ethical reasoning and disability studies to show the complexity of questions of disability in bioethics. This includes how society detrimentally focuses on difference.)

  • Scully, J.L. (2019) ‘Epistemic Exclusion, Injustice and Disability’, in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Disability, ed. A. Cureton and D.T. Wasserman, Oxford: Oxford University Press. (Discusses social epistemology and epistemic injustice, as experienced by people living with disabilities. Sets out a challenge to mitigate harms from the unprecedented potential for epistemic injustice for disabled people, in a climate of enthusiasm for genetic technologies.)

  • Sheehan, M. (2009) ‘Making Sense of the Immorality of Unnaturalness’, Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 18: 177–188. (Considers the nature and validity of claims that something is interfering with nature. Sheehan considers the problem, and critically evaluates a number of different conceptualisations of what it means to interfere with nature. He then offers an account of interfering with nature that appeals to transgressions of the limits of human activity.)

  • Sumner, L.W. (1996) Welfare, Happiness, and Ethics, Oxford: Clarendon Press. (Recognising that welfare is both important to ethical debates but contentious as to its meaning, Sumner considers a range of theories of welfare (objective, subjective, and hedonistic) before arguing for an account of welfare founded on life satisfaction. Sumner concludes that welfare is the only basic ethical value.)

  • Tong, R. (2006) ‘Traditional and Feminist Bioethical Perspectives on Gene Transfer: Is Inheritable Genetic Modification Really the Problem?’, in The Ethics of Inheritable Genetic Modification: A Dividing Line? ed. J. Rasko, G. O’Sullivan, and R. Ankeny, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 159–173. (Critically considers the place of feminist bioethics scholarship in debates over genetic modification. Tong highlights the impact of these technologies on women, questions the degree of freedom that people have in choosing to use genetic modification, and sets out how feminist ethics can contribute to these debates.)

  • Velleman, D. (2008) ‘Persons in Prospect’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 36(3): 221–288. (A collection of three papers, originally written for an undergraduate philosophy course on Future Persons. The three papers claim that we cannot harm or benefit future generations; that an obligation to future generations mandates taking due consideration for human life and that future persons can rationally feel resentment towards their progenitors.)

  • Wrigley, A. (2012) ‘Harm to Future Persons: Non-Identity Problems and Counterpart Solutions’, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 15: 175–190. (Identifies the philosophical theoretical assumptions upon which Parfit relies in order to support his Non-Identity Problem. Argues there are clear alternative philosophical foundations that would undermine Parfit’s conclusions, thereby eliminating the problem of how we can attribute harm or benefit to future generations.)

Citing this article:
Newson, Ainsley J. and Anthony Wrigley. Bibliography. Genetic modification, 2020, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L133-2. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
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