Bioethics and Human Genetics: Consensus Formation in Europe
Mankind is nowadays faced with many different challenges (both concerning man’s knowledge as well as man’s practical conduct) brought about by the exploration of the molecular basis of heredity. Many entwined questions arise: is genetic knowledge relevant to the comprehension of nature in general and of man’s vision of himself in particular? Faced with the new possibilities of insight and intervention in human genom, how should we conceive nature (both human as well as non-human)? Modern molecular biology has demonstrated that our genetic patrimony must not be considered throughly and completely determined; on the contrary it constitutes an aray of possible dispositions, on which we have the possibility to intervene, therefore changing our destiny. The insight in man’s genom has therefore on one side made our personal and hereditary dispositions accessible and comprehensible to us (thus producing a new concept of destiny); on the other side human genetics makes it possible for everyone to change his/her personal genetic constitution or that of his/her descendants, and therefore indicates a previously unknown way of autonomous behaviour. The ethical judgement of the above mentioned possibilities on one side questions the legitimacy of the aims and on the other analyses whether a justification of the tools used for these purposes is possible. The difference between therapeutic and non-therapeutic interventions or between somatic interventions on individuals and interventions on the germinal line (which will influence also the following generations) are to be considered part of the aim’s question, whereas the moral analysis of the means is oriented towards the unconditional respect of the autonomy of those involved and towards a manifold evaluation of benefits, drawbacks and risks.
Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics
III (2001) 1
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Ludger Honnefelder, "Bioethics and Human Genetics: Consensus Formation in Europe", in: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics, III (2001) 1