Everybody's Got One
A blog. An opinion. An elimination orifice. A dream. An agenda. A past. A hidden talent. A conceptual filter. A cross. A charism (often the same). A task. A wound. A destiny. A lost love. A blind spot. A bad habit. A secret. A passion. A soul ... okay, maybe not everybody ...
Friday, April 16, 2004

Mending vs Maximizing  

Brian Micklethwait at Samizdata:
One of the great things about blogging is that you can make a very small and modest point about a very large and immodest matter. ...
[T]here is something dodgy about going beyond the elimination of specific genetically inherited badnesses, that is to say illnesses, and into the territory of genetically programmed goodnesses, in the form of such things as greatly enhanced musical ability or much stronger muscles. ... Genetic goodness may turn out to be a lot more tricky – a lot more problematic, as modern parlance has it, to induce than many perhaps now assume.

I have always thought that genetic engineering will enable us to learn a lot. I now suspect however, that much of what we learn will [be] of the sort that goes: "Well, that we should not have done!"

This distinction between genetically induced badness and angenetically induced goodness reminds me strongly of the distinction, familiar to most of us here, between the idea that government is okay when it sticks to removing or restraining obvious badnesses from society, such as crimes or foreign aggressions, but a lot less okay when it moves into the territory of encouraging goodnesses, in the form of such things as economic success, and (the big one now) health (by which I mean "public" health, a general disposition to be healthy in the whole population). Encouraging goodness in individual human bodies and minds by genetic means seems to me likely to be a process which will turn out to be illuminated by rather similar intellectual categories.

In short, our books about political philosophy may turn out to be great not just on the subject of political philosophy, but also to have a great and rather unexpected future in the area of "genetic philosophy".
Another of the great things about blogging is that you regularly run across insights like this one.

posted by Kelly | 3:02 PM link