From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice
intelligently addresses difficult issues at the intersection of medical ethics and the theory of justice. The authors Allen Buchanan, Dan W. Brock, Norman Daniels, and Daniel Wikler repeatedly emphasized their opinion that advances in genetic technology force upon us entirely new ethical questions that previous moral theories lack the resources to resolve.
The claim that
new scientific discoveries render previous moral theories obsolete should be regarded with suspicion. Suspicion should be further aroused when readers note another feature of the authors’ theorizing that neatly fits the claim that we stand at the dawn of a new world of ethical theorizing. The authors’ discussion from start to finish stayed at a middle level. That is, the authors began each chapter with a few moral principles taken to be plausible or possibly plausible and examined their implications for issues raised by new genetic technology.
This is not an exercise in applied ethics, because the principles initially invoked are subjected to criticism and scrutiny. But in almost every significant case, the results are inconclusive. The moral puzzles that are raised are left unsolved, with moral reasons pointing towards opposed conclusions and the principles that generated these opposed reasons left in an unordered state, with no guidance as to how much relative weight to assign to one or another of these principles. The authors endorsed Rawlsian reflective equilibrium methodology in ethics, but tentative reflective equilibrium5tends to remain beyond reach in the chapters of this book.
Richard J. Arneson,
Is Moral Theory Perplexed by New Genetic Technology?,
San Diego L. Rev.
Available at: https://digital.sandiego.edu/sdlr/vol39/iss3/8