Beneficence, determinism and justice: an engagement
with the argument for the genetic selection of intelligence

Birch K.
Department of Planning, Gipsy Lane,
Oxford Brookes University,
OX3 0BB, UK.
Bioethics. 2005 Feb;19(1):12-28.


In 2001, Julian Savulescu wrote an article entitled 'Procreative Beneficence: Why We Should Select the Best Children', in which he argued for the genetic selection of intelligence in children. That article contributes to a debate on whether genetic research on intelligence should be undertaken at all and, if so, should intelligence selection be available to potential parents. As such, the question of intelligence selection relates to wider issues concerning the genetic determinism of behavioural traits, i.e. alcoholism. This article is designed as an engagement in the intelligence selection debate using an analysis of Savulescu's arguments to raise a series of problematic issues in relation to the ethics of parental selection of intelligence. These problematic issues relate to wider assumptions that are made in order to put forward intelligence selection as a viable ethical option. Such assumptions are more generic in character, but still relate to Savulescu's article, concerning issues of genetic determinism, private allocation and inequality, and, finally, individual versus aggregate justice. The conclusion focuses on what the implications are for the question of agency, especially if intelligence selection is allowed.
Julian Savulescu
Private eugenics
'Designer babies'
Procreative liberty
Personal genomics
Genetic enhancement
Ashkenazi intelligence
Eugenics before Galton
Scandanavian eugenics
The literature of eugenics
Human self-domestication
Germline genetic engineering
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis
A life without pain? Hedonists take note'
'The Principle of Procreative Beneficence'
Francis Galton and contemporary eugenics
Gene therapy and performance enhancement
Principle of Procreative Beneficence vs Acceptable Suffering?

and further reading

BLTC Research
Utopian Surgery?
The Good Drug Guide
The Abolitionist Project
The Hedonistic Imperative
The Reproductive Revolution
MDMA: Utopian Pharmacology
Critique of Huxley's Brave New World