Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Philosophy and Religion

First Advisor

Robert Westmoreland

Relational Format



In this paper I propose a guideline that we may use to determine when it is ethical to take advantage of the technology that we call human genetic engineering. I first clarify the purpose of the paper by explaining the science behind the technology, defining much of the debate in the process. In short, manufactured DNA is introduced into the human genome for the purpose of modifying the expression of the genes and the person that they produce. I indicate that this is a value theory paper rather than a detailed policy paper. This is significant because it merely addresses what is ethical, and not what is easily enforceable through regulation. Given this, I propose that it is ethical to undertake genetic engineering of human embryos in cases of medical disease or defect and unethical to do so for cosmetic purposes. I recite two prominent ethical theories in philosophy, Kantian ethics and utilitarianism, and use these theories to judge my proposed guideline. By showing how my theory is consistent with two radically different views on ethics, I prove the strength of my theory as a good principle on how to ethically use genetic engineering on humans.

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