Designer Genes


January 4th, 2011 Posted in Ethics, Medical Ethics |

by Justin D. Barnard, Witherspoon Institute

In a 1958 editorial, C.S. Lewis commented on the questions: “Is man progressing today?” and “Is progress even possible?” Lewis feared the prospect of a “planned state”—a “technocracy” in which the government “must increasingly rely on the advice of scientists, till in the end the politicians proper become merely the scientists’ puppets.” With his characteristic frankness and common sense, Lewis articulated the grounds of his fear thus:
I dread specialists in power because they are specialists speaking outside their special subjects. Let scientists tell us about sciences. But . . . questions about the good for man, about justice, and what things are worth having at what price . . . on these a scientific training gives a man’s opinion no added value. Let the doctor tell me I shall die unless I do so-and-so; but whether life is worth having on those terms is no more a question for him than for any other man.
Whether western liberal democracies have “progressed” in the direction of the “welfare state” that Lewis envisioned in his 1958 essay is a matter of on-going political debate. What is, perhaps, undisputed is that in addition to telling us about science, a new scientific priesthood speaks ex cathedra on the whole range of “questions about the good for man, about justice, and what things are worth having at what price.”

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