Editing the Genome of Human Being

CRISPR-Cas9 and the Ethics of Genetic Enhancement


  • Marcelo de Araujo Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro




In 2015 a team of scientists used a new gene-editing technique called CRISPR-Cas9 to edit the genome of 86 non-viable human embryos. The experiment sparked a global debate on the ethics of gene editing. In this paper, I first review the key ethical issues that have been addressed in this debate. Although there is an emerging consensus now that research on the editing of human somatic cells for therapeutic purpose should be pursued further, the prospect of using gene-editing techniques for the purpose of human enhancement has been met with strong criticism. The main thesis that I defend in this paper is that some of the most vocal objections recently raised against the prospect of genetic human enhancement are not justified. I put forward two arguments for the morality of genetic human enhancement. The first argument shows how the moral and legal framework within which we currently claim our procreative rights, especially in the context of IVF procedures, could be deployed in the assessment of the morality and legality of genetic human enhancement. The second argument calls into question the assumption that the average level of human cognitive performance should have a normative character.




How to Cite

Editing the Genome of Human Being: CRISPR-Cas9 and the Ethics of Genetic Enhancement. (2017). Journal of Ethics and Emerging Technologies, 27(1), 24-42. https://doi.org/10.55613/jeet.v27i1.65