Genetic Engineering Essay Sample

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The situational ethics theory was first postulated during the 1960’s by Joseph Fletcher. It was intended to be a middle ground position in the Christian world of ethics between antinomianism and legalism. Antinomianism says there is no law—everything is relative to the moment and should be decided in a spontaneous fashion with man’s will as the source of truth. Legalism has a set of predetermined and different laws for every decision-making situation. Fletcher’s ethical theory is based on only one absolute law, which when applied properly, handles every situation. Fletcher posits his situational absolutism with its one law for everything by saying we must enter every situation with only one moral weapon—the law of agape love. According to Fletcher, Jesus summed up the Mosaic law and the Ten Commandments in one word—love. Therefore, there are no commandments which may not be broken in some situation for love’s sake. Every law is breakable by love. Situation Ethics instructs us to love. It is a theory concerned with humans (one of the four Ps is Personalism). Therefore situationists would be more than happy to use animals to grow organs or pharmaceuticals.

The real question with these therapies is: is it Pragmatic, does genetic ‘pharming’ work? There is good evidence to suggest they do work very successfully, so Situation Ethics would support them. What about human genetic engineering? Gene therapies that are somatic (in one person’s body [soma]) would doubtless be seen as a loving alternative to letting someone suffer and die. Germ-line therapies are more problematic, as they may affect many future generations, and Situation Ethics is teleological, concerned with the ends. However, situation ethics is Relativist, relativism which means that if the it may be too risky as a general rule to make changes to a germ-line, but situation ethics is happy to ‘throw away [its] principles and do the right thing’ – the rules are only guidelines and the right course of action is relative to the particular circumstances. It is more difficult to say where situation ethics would stand with enhancement gene therapies. A situationist is likely to argue that the money could be better spent on those who are sick (this would certainly be more loving), but there are no absolutes here.

In special individual cases, the most loving thing to do may be enhancement gene therapy but in some it may not be. A situationist would also say that if the outcome of the genetic engineering is the most loving for the whole community or in this case society then it would be the best thing to do, as it is pragmatic it does consider the whole community in this situation and if the outcome will be a good out come for the whole community then laws can be broken so it is relative. Jesus’s teaching and the ten commandments say that you should love thy parents and if the human genetically engineered person was created if they were loving to their creators then they would be a good thing as we may be able to create perfect humans but then the question would be isn’t this immoral and not loving to the rest of society and is it unethical for this human to not have been brought into the world through reproduction which is what all Christians are meant to do.

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