Genetic Engineering...

Susan Hogarth sjhogart at
Sun Mar 9 20:36:05 EST 1997

browland at wrote:

>... I see the question as requiring a choice between two ideas.
> 1) Humans are animals which have no right to mess with the order of
> the world.
> 2) Humans are animals which, having complex thought processes and
> superior intelligence, may do whatever they want.

Is your mind really that small? Only *two* ideas?
> However, simplification leads to greater problems. If you believe
> humans have no right to mess with the world, well, there goes
> technology, electricity, highly structured society, finance, cars,
> airplanes, space travel... This is something society is clearly not
> going to choose. I see the obvious choice being the second idea: humas
> are superior.

Where did you learn logic? From watching the Simpson trial? Why would
you think that having "complex thought processes and superior
intelligence" (assuming we *do*) would give us the right to do anything?

I think the problem is that we want to see things in terms of right and
wrong, when the question is simply "possible or impposible?". The cat
doesn't ask himself if it's *right* to kill the mouse... only if he
*can* and if it's worth his while. 

We refrain from killing other humans because we've developed a social
code which frowns on such things (under some circumstances, anyway :)  I
think it's a mistake to get this human social code mixed up in our
relationship with the rest of the world. We need to look at our own self
interest in deciding what is reasonable in the way of genetic
engineering, land use, etc. The big problem, of course, is to define
what we see as our own self-interest. 

> Oh, and the other point I want to make is this. Someone stated that:
> "GE will will prevent the extinction of animals by cloning." Well,
> extinction is a natural thing. It's part of the way the world works. I
> don't think it's something that we should try to prevent.

<groan> What about extinction due to habitat loss caused by human
population expansion? The "It's part of the way the world works"
arguement holds *no* water logically - aren't *we* also "part of the way
the world works"?

> Of course, I can very easily see how one would say this, and I can see
> their point. Humans must be superior in intelligence and therefore
> have the right (and the ability) to rule the planet by making
> decisions. We made the decision to contine polluting the environment
> (causing extinction). We made the decision to wipe out millions of
> acres of rain forest (causing extinction). Etc. So now that we've done
> this, go right ahead and try to fix things by preventing extinction of
> threatened species.

My opinion is that until we stop castigating ourselves with guilt about
the current state of the world, we will be able to accomplish *nothing*.
After all, we are something _new and exciting_ in the way of evolution,
and we hold great promise for the world. Why not quit pissing and
moaning about how *bad* we've been and *do* something with the world? If
you feel morally constrained from "interfering with the world" (a
concept which makes no sense, since we are, of course, of the world...),
stand aside!


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