[ExI] circumcision again

Anders anders at aleph.se
Wed Sep 28 21:21:34 UTC 2016

On 2016-09-28 17:53, William Flynn Wallace wrote:
>  OK - now can we return to the question that started this?  From 
> Anders post I assume he thinks that any good done by genetic meddling 
> is OK.  Is that it? When you become aware of what was done to you by 
> the gengineers you are just thankful because they created you as good 
> as you could be with the genes you were given and those that they 
> reprogrammed, were donated by someone else and so on, are OK too?

Maybe. But there is a difference between having longevity genes and 
having green skin. Even if being green-skinned in a sense is part of who 
you have grown up to be, it is not a general purpose good: it is useful 
for some life projects but bad for others. So while you may be thankful 
for being who you are, you have less reason to be thankful for the 
particular enhancement. This gets more extreme the more narrow the 
enhancements are.

> I remember from Heinlein's Friday ("My mother was a test tube") that 
> being a hybrid of sorts and not 'natural' was looked down on.  You 
> were a second class citizen. Was Heinlein simply wrong about people's 
> reactions to not being 'natural'?

People value naturalness differently based on culture. One can imagine 
strains of our culture looking down on "hybrids" and strains regarding 
them with envy. In fact, both concerns show up when people try to 
formulate arguments against genetic enhancement. The conclusion is that 
it is an empirical question and one cannot base an ethical argument on 
it; a better use of ethicist effort is to create the right conditions 
for just treatment of people.

Dr Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Oxford University

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