CHAPTER ONE: SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT
I will first review three attempts by obligation theorists to ground genetic obligations to future generations: the utilitarian position of Jonathan Glover, the contractarian views of Ronald Green (following John Rawls), and the theory of responsibility of Hans Jonas. The radical communitarianism of Martin Golding and Alasdair MacIntyre will then be discussed. I will defend the thesis that a version of communitarianism suggested by Alasdair MacIntyre offers a more satisfactory basis for genetic obligations to future generations than do the other theories.
My argument in support of the thesis is that Glover, Green, Jonas, and Golding do not satisfactorily account for some ordinary intuitions that surround human genetic engineering. I attempt to account for these common perceptions by drawing upon and extending some heretofore unexplored insights of the communitarian tradition that seem applicable to genetic interventions in humans. For this purpose, I modify and extend Alasdair MacIntyre’s theory in a version of moderate communitarianism I call “filial morality.”
Jonathan Glover: Utilitarianism
The utilitarian position of Glover, the contractarian views of Green and Rawls, and the theory of responsibility of Hans Jonas I will classify as obligation theories. By obligation theory I mean a moral theory in which moral obligations are derived from principles of action. The rightness of actions is the central focus of moral judgments in obligation theory. Utilitarians regard an action as right if it results in a net benefit; hence, the satisfaction of needs is a central focus of moral considerations in the utilitarian approach. Contractarians, by contrast, regard actions as right if those who negotiate the social contract give their free consent to the actions. For this reason, rights are central to the contractarian account.
Glover adopts a utilitarian approach and places no limits on the applications of human genetic engineering. He allows enhancements on the grounds that humans need improvement. The history of humans in the twentieth century, Glover proposes, reflects a warlike tendency that needs to be altered.
Glover’s failure to place any restraints on human genetic engineering leaves unaddressed the fears that genetic engineering may open a Pandora’s box that is better left closed. This failure is tied to Glover’s utilitarian principles. Glover advocates gathering data and, once the data are in, judging the effects of human genetic engineering—much as the impact of nuclear waste and armaments has been addressed after data concerning their effects have been gathered. A prohibition of all forms of human genetic engineering would preclude any data gathering and any potential benefits. Hence, Glover argues, the work should go forward and consequences should be assessed in response to each development.
A theoretical framework that omits widespread fears or common intuitions surrounding human genetic engineering is, I suggest, inadequate for the task of grounding genetic obligations to future generations. A shared notion of the good is necessary for Glover’s defense of enhancements, but Glover is unable to provide a framework for shared purpose or a shared good in his obligation theory. I will also criticize Glover for failing to distinguish environmental from genetic obligations, failing to distinguish an obligation to future populations from obligations to future individuals, and for failing to provide an adequate place for partiality toward one’s child.
Ronald Green and John Rawls: Contractarianism
Ronald Green, who adopts the contractarian framework of John Rawls, argues for the view that contractors in an original position would not accept complex therapies. Green is quite restrictive with this proposal, and provides no framework for expressing the perception that gene therapy may be employed for serious or fatal diseases. He builds his case on the claim that complex therapies may have dysgenic effects on the population.
I have two main arguments with the views of Green and Rawls. The first is an empirical matter, the second has to do with the theoretical orientation of these authors. In regard to the empirical claim, fears of a diffusion of genetic defects have been quelled in population genetics by a law known as the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. The conclusion of Hardy and Weinberg is that the incidence of the genes for recessive conditions can generally be expected to remain the same after a corrective measure is introduced to palliate the condition. When diet for controlling the effects of PKU is introduced, for example, the frequency of the gene for PKU remains the same in the population as it is at the time the diet is introduced. The frequency of the gene will not increase in the population when the diet is introduced and masks the deleterious effects of the gene.
The theoretical difficulty with Green and Rawls is that the restraint on complex therapies is inconsistent with the policy that the contractors may be expected to adopt. The contractors within generations are viewed in the Rawlsian framework as self-interested adult strangers who negotiate for mutual advantage. Contractors under these conditions could plausibly rule out complex therapies, given Green’s assumption of dysgenic effects from such therapies. When Green and Rawls address the contract between generations, however, they describe the contractors as heads of families. Heads of families, I would observe, derive obligations from bonds of affection and are not likely to negotiate away life-saving therapies for children. I contend that heads of families are unlikely to negotiate away a therapy necessary to save a child’s life, since heads of families have consented to the continuation and nurturing of life—in particular, the lives of their own children.
This theoretical difficulty is linked to the temporality and stability problems faced by Green and Rawls. I also respond to Rawls’ view that the negotiators of the social contract are strangers with no shared notion of the good. To provide for a shared notion of the good I present an account of moral agency which holds that the basic unit of moral agency is the individual who chooses whether to nurture life.
Hans Jonas: Theory of Responsibility
Jonas allows little or no genetic intervention, suggesting that the human genome is sacred. A responsibility not to alter the genome arises from a need to protect it from threats. In Jonas’ view, threats to resources from the applications of technology challenge the very existence of the human population. Hence, Jonas proposes a categorical imperative: “that there be a mankind.” The human genome, he maintains, must be protected since it is the most nonrenewable and irreplaceable resource of all.
Jonas’ prohibition of genetic engineering in humans will be rejected in the filial theory in favor of the view that genetic alterations which make the nurturing relationship possible are acceptable. His categorical imperative will be incorporated into the filial theory as a variant of the response of the individual who, upon confronting death, affirms life.
Summary Remarks on the Obligation Theories
The obligation theorists examined in the book fail on the following five points: 1) they fail to present an adequate notion of the good: they cannot accommodate a distinction between internal and external goods in their theories; 2) they fail to agree on who owes and who benefits from obligations to future generations: this failure reflects their inadequate accounts of moral agency; 3) they fail to provide an adequate account of the virtues; 4) they do not agree on a standard or standards of morality; and 5) they fail to give an adequate account of the motive of morality: none of the theorists describes a choice or choices more fundamental than the choice of moral rules—namely, the choice of whether to live and sustain life.
I turn to communitarian theories in search of some ways to provide answers to these shortcomings of the obligation theories.
Martin Golding: Radical Communitarianism
I will regard a communitarian theory as a view that derives moral obligations from roles played in a community. Virtues are prominent in a communitarian theory, since they are qualities that enable an individual to get along in a community.
Golding derives obligations to future generations from a social ideal that the present generation shares with future generations. The moral community is presented in Golding as the community that shares a social ideal. Since nearby generations are more likely to share a social ideal with the present generation than are distant generations, Golding holds that more is owed to nearby than to distant generations. The shared social ideal that grounds obligations to future generations in Golding is an ideal or purpose shared by members of a community, and this ideal obligates the present generation to enhance the lives of nearby generations. Membership in a community, in the radical version of communitarianism that Golding presents, may result from involuntary participation in roles within the community.
Daniel Callahan expresses an intuitive response to Golding’s radical communitarianism. Callahan challenges Golding’s assignment of a priority to enhance the lives of future generations and proposes that not doing harm should be given priority. Further, some social ideals may be shared with even distant generations.
I will criticize Golding on three additional counts: he blends environmental with genetic obligations; he conflates parental obligations with obligations to future populations, and he derives moral obligations from involuntary membership in associations.
Alasdair MacIntyre: Modified Radical Communitarianism
MacIntyre echoes Golding in deriving obligations from the roles played in a community. However, while generally he regards membership in a community as involuntary, MacIntyre leaves open the possibility of voluntary membership in communities. I will examine MacIntyre’s communitarian theory and develop the suggestion that the basis for obligation is voluntary membership in a community. A view that traces the normative force of obligations to voluntary membership in a community is a view that I describe as moderate communitarianism.
In defense of the suggestion that voluntary membership in a community is the basis of obligation, I propose that the motivation for accepting moral obligations is the free choice of individuals, not a feeling of sympathy for others—as it is in Glover’s utilitarianism—nor involuntary participation in social roles—as it is in Golding’s form of communitarianism. Green and Rawls hold that moral rules are binding if the rational person can choose the rules, but I defend choices more fundamental than the moral rules. I argue that persons choose whether to nurture life itself—first one’s own life and then that of another or others—and the choice of moral rules follows upon these more basic choices. In choosing the rules of a game or practice, one chooses the game itself: a practice is defined by its rules. Although sympathy, choice of the moral rules, and participation in social roles form part of the moral picture, more basic than any of these is the individual’s choice of whether to join a moral community.
The notion of a moral community is, of course, riddled with problems. Fears of one “moral community” imposing its views on another have prompted a separation of church and state in liberal democracies. Any talk of a moral community raises the inevitable question “Which community constitutes a moral community?” In the version of communitarianism that I am advancing, the fundamental moral community is the community of two individuals in which nurturing takes place. The mutual nurturing of two friends provides an example. The paradigm instance of nurturing, however, is that of the child by the parent. When a person confronts the choice of whether to nurture life, he or she joins the moral community of all humans who nurture by choice and not merely by instinct.
One shortcoming of the obligation theories is their failure to address the issue of a shared good or shared purpose. MacIntyre builds his moral theory around a revision of Aristotle. Aristotle answers the question of the purpose of a whole life with his view that a basic harmony exists in nature and that species are fixed. An individual human’s purpose is attained in achieving or fulfilling the telos or purpose of the species. MacIntyre revises these notions of Aristotle and holds that conflict, not harmony, is basic in life and that the rules of morality arise from conflict. Species do not have a fixed, identifiable nature or purpose, according to MacIntyre. Each person engages in a quest for meaning—a quest, that is, to discover one’s purpose. The purpose of a whole life, according to MacIntyre, is to discover the purpose of the quest. I will add to this notion of MacIntyre and suggest a more specific purpose—namely, the nurturing of life.
The life of each person, according to MacIntyre, is a narrative quest for the meaning of his or her life. To engage in the quest is to place oneself within a practice. Purpose in life is not created in a void. To enter a game, an art, a science, or to engage in making and sustaining a community is to enter a practice. Standards of morality, in MacIntyre’s view, arise from practices. Individual actions are performed on particular occasions, but they are judged in relation to standards or excellences achieved in the practice to which they belong. One becomes an apprentice to others who are engaged in a practice and, through the development of skills, locates oneself in relation to others who engage in the practice. I will argue in the section on filial morality that every child raised by an adult or adults is apprenticed to the decision of whether to nurture life—his or her own and that of others.
The failure of the obligation theorists to give an adequate account of the good is directly the result of their failure to distinguish internal from external goods. MacIntyre gives the beginning of an answer by offering a more complete account of what is good than do the obligation theorists. MacIntyre draws a distinction between goods external to and goods internal to a practice. Fame, power, and wealth are external goods, while internal goods are the possession of skills specific to a particular practice and the pleasures that accompany the development of those skills. Thus, the internal goods can only be described in relation to particular practices. To illustrate, MacIntyre uses the example of a young child who is taught to play chess. The child may have little interest in playing chess but more interest in having candy. Thus, the adult teacher offers the child $.50 worth of candy to play chess and another $.50 worth if the child wins. As long as candy is the goal, it makes sense for the child to cheat. Candy is a good external to the game, and chess is but a means to the end of gaining the candy. As the child’s chess skills progress, however, the attainment of those skills and the pleasures associated with the skills—that is, the attainment of the internal goods of chess—becomes an end pursued for its own sake. The question of where she fits in relation to other chess players may occur to the growing child. If she wishes to attain excellence in the development of her skills or locate her skills in relation to other practitioners in a tradition, she only defeats herself if she engages in cheating because she deprives herself of that knowledge. (After 188) The internal goods are goods for the entire community of those who engage in a practice. The external goods are private possessions: the more that one receives the less there is available for others. Unlike the obligation theorists who concern themselves primarily with external, quantifiable, and distributable goods, MacIntyre gives a central place to the internal goods and links internal goods with virtue. Virtues make possible the attainment of internal goods: without virtues, it is impossible to attain the internal goods. The virtues of truthfulness, courage, and justice—among others—must be present if practices are to be sustained. (After 192)
MacIntyre faces a difficulty with relativism: he cannot distinguish between evil and good practices. The standards that arise from membership in a charitable organization, in MacIntyre’s account, seem to be on the same moral footing as the standards that arise from membership in a criminal organization. I suggest that MacIntyre’s theory may be modified, and I would alter it by saying that not all practices are on an equal moral footing. The making and sustaining of communities require a prior decision whether to sustain and nurture life itself. The decision to engage in the practice of sustaining and nurturing life, I suggest, lies at the very core of morality.
A shortcoming of all the obligation and communitarian theories in this review is their failure adequately to answer the question “Why be moral?” This shortcoming is tied to their failure to take into account choices more fundamental than the choice of moral rules. The insight of contractarians that the free choices of individuals provide the motive for following the moral rules is one of the great strengths of the theory. More basic than the choice of rules, however, are the fundamental choices of life itself and the conditions that make possible the continuation of life. An acknowledgement of these choices will provide an answer to the question “Why should I be moral?” To make allowance for this set of basic choices and to provide an answer to the shortcomings of the various theories, I modify and supplement MacIntyre’s account and develop what I call a “filial theory” of communitarian morality.
Moderate Communitarianism: Filial Morality
The fundamental moral community is a community of two persons, one who nurtures and another who is nurtured. The notion of nurturing in ordinary usage is varied. I will stipulate my meaning of the term by first giving examples and then explaining the differences between nurturing by a being conscious that she will die and the rearing of offspring by a creature that does not extrapolate to its own death. My references to human nurturing will be to nurturing by beings conscious of their own death.
The position that I present is meant to be compatible with different answers to the question of personal mortality. I build my argument around the experience of suffering and uncertainty that accompanies the awareness of one’s own death and the death of a beloved. My references to the awareness of mortality refer only to an awareness of death. My intent is to describe and build upon an experience shared by many or most humans, an experience that I have found common to people with quite different views on immortality. Whether one accepts a doctrine of reincarnation, heaven, or nirvana, or whether one views death as the cessation of one’s existence, the intense experience that leads persons to entertain such varied answers to the question of immortality is the experience upon which I build my moral theory.
The nurturing by a being conscious of her own death may be described as conscious nurturing, while the nurturing given by a creature that does not extrapolate to its own death may be called instinctive nurturing. When I use the term “nurturing” alone in discussing nurturing by humans, I will mean conscious nurturing unless I specify otherwise. While animal nurturing in my account refers to rearing by a creature not conscious of its own death, I do not intend to exclude the possibility that some animals may be conscious of death.
The parent-child relationship in the human setting is an instance of nurturing; however, the nurturing of humans can take place in many settings. Teaching, friendship, and health care are but three examples of additional practices that include nurturing.
A parent’s nurturing of a child is the paradigmatic instance of a nurturing relationship. I use “nurturing parent” to include not only the biological parent who rears the child, but also any person who assumes the role of nurturing a young child through the period of dependency. This role could be filled by a single individual, by more than one individual as it is in a two-parent home, or by several individuals—as it is, for example, if the child is raised in an institution.
One parent and one child constitute the basic filial community. This community is not a biological unit. Both the male and female parent are ordinarily required to produce offspring. The filial community of one parent and one child is the paradigmatic moral community. Each person who is old enough to reproduce has generally faced at least to some degree the question of personal mortality. Persons of reproductive age also have come to the knowledge of the causal link between intercourse and pregnancy, pregnancy and birth, and birth and death. They are aware of pain associated with living and of the agony that accompanies awareness of personal mortality. In the face of this knowledge of mortality, the potential parent affirms the continuation of life. The decision to continue life is a free choice by persons of reproductive age: knowledge of suicide renders the continued existence of a young adult a matter of choice; the parent’s awareness of the practice of adoption or abortion renders the keeping and nurturing of one’s own child and the continuation of a pregnancy to birth a matter of parental choice. The choice of life in response to pain and death is the critical moment in the continuation of the moral community and in the existence of morality itself.
The importance of the parent-child relationship to morality may be accounted for in part with the following suggestions. A separation between parent and child occurs when the child becomes aware that the parent chose to nurture the child through the period of dependency. The parent made this decision, even though the parent knew the child would be likely to undergo the agony that accompanies the awareness of death. When the child becomes aware that she or a beloved will die, the child feels a sense of separation from the parent and a need to account for the parent’s decision. This separation is overcome when the child provides the account by participating in the life she has received. The parent who balances unqualified love (the love given despite the knowledge that the beloved will die and that her life is still valuable) and qualified love (the love given on the condition that certain standards are met) provides the conditions for the child to mature and participate in life. The decision of the child to participate continues the family narrative. The continuation of this narrative, made possible by a balancing of qualified and unqualified love, is an internal good of nurturing. The neo-Freudian Erich Fromm defends the view that the balancing unconditional and conditional love is necessary for the successful development of the child.
The balancing of these two types of love for the child requires that the parent adopt the nurturing point of view. The nurturing point of view in the filial theory is the moral point of view. One moves from the state of nature to the state of civilization when one decides to nurture life—both one’s own and that of another or others. Society in the filial theory is not viewed as an aggregate of individual adults. It is viewed instead as an aggregate of communities, the most fundamental of which is the parent-child community. The full social contract between adults establishes the basic structure of society or societies. The covenant between parent and child, however, precedes the full social contract and establishes the basic structure of communities. The social contract is made between equals, the community covenant between unequals.
Remaining in the tension of conditional and unconditional acceptance of the one who is nurtured is the fundamental moral stance. Part of the difficulty of remaining in this tension is generated by the fact that the parent has made a substituted judgment for the child. The potential parent has faced the intense uncertainties that surround the awareness of death and has experienced the conditions of living. In the light of this set of experiences, the parent has made the series of decisions to nurture—at the stages of conception, pregnancy, and birth. The parent’s decision is made with the knowledge of mortality and the knowledge of the intensity with which nature negates each human. From the sense of one’s mortality the parent’s affirmation arises: “Let there be life.” This response to mortality prescribes what ought to be; it does not describe a state of affairs—e.g., that life is forever. Rather it prescribes that, despite the pain and the agony, life should continue. This conscious and freely chosen continuation of life renders the relationship between the human parent and child unique among the creatures on this planet: the child embodies the parent’s choice of life and is apprenticed to face one day the same existential choice.
An internal good of nurturing is the child’s acceptance of the parent’s decision, an acceptance expressed in the child’s forgiveness of the parent for the choice to give the child existence. This good is not a private possession: it is a good shared by both members of the filial community. The forgiveness of the child is given when the child chooses to participate in the life made possible by the parent’s decision. A purpose is produced in this decision, a purpose shared by both the parent and the child. This is the purpose of continuing life. The child’s forgiveness provides the parent with a center of gravity, a purpose that has arisen from the role as parent. A transfer of authority within the moral community occurs when the child chooses to participate in life. The child is apprenticed to this choice as the parent seeks to transfer moral authority to the grown child. This transfer of moral authority is a shared or common good, a good for the community of those who nurture by choice rather than by instinct—a good, in short, for the human community.
In answer to the question “Why should I be moral?” I note first that this is the same question as “Why should I choose to nurture life?” According to the filial theory, the choice of whether to nurture life is a choice of whether to join the community of those in human generations before me who have faced the question of mortality and, despite the agony associated with the awareness of mortality, have chosen to continue life. The choice of the grown child to participate in and nurture life is a decision to enter the community of persons who nurture by choice and not merely by instinct. This choice is made with the knowledge that unless a parent had nurtured me, I would not have survived the early years of complete dependency. If I choose to continue my own life, I choose to join the community of those in past generations who have faced pain and suffering and chosen to nurture life. The most immediate community that is chosen is the filial community of parent and child.
To choose to nurture one’s life is to accept the transfer of moral authority from the parent and, in so doing, to become reconciled with the parent for the parent’s decision to give life to the child. It is to forgive the parent for the choice to give life to the child, a choice that has resulted in the inevitable inflicting of pain as the child contemplates personal mortality. The choice that confronts each young adult, then, is a choice of which community to join—the community that chooses life or that which chooses death. To choose life is to continue the narrative of the nurturing community—the immediate family of parent and child and the larger human family. To choose death is to end the personal narrative. Altruistic suicide, although it involves a choice of one’s own death, is a choice that favors the continuation of the lives of others. The choice of life is the choice to enter a community of conscious nurturers; hence, one who chooses life is by virtue of the choice a social being. The nurturing of others is an extension of one’s social nature.
I may now interpret an answer that MacIntyre gives to the question, “Why should I be moral?” His answer is that I should be moral because we—the members of my community—are moral (“Patriotism” 10). I should be moral, in the filial version of communitarianism, because we—those who have come before me, given me life, apprenticed me to the choice of whether to nurture my life and the lives of others, and transferred moral authority to me—are moral. We are moral because we have chosen life. Having chosen to join this community, I am in a position to say: “I should be moral because I have chosen life.” I have chosen the life of a particular community and the rules by which that community attempts to govern itself. By participating in the choice of rules, I participate in life itself; when I participate in life, I choose life.
Application of Filial Morality to Human Genetic Engineering
The cure of fatal genetic diseases makes possible the nurturing relationship, and for this reason may be justifiable. Genetic enhancement of one’s offspring, however, poses a threat to the filial relationship by removing the pole of unconditional love from the relationship. To design or enhance the child’s characteristics is to base the acceptance of the child on a condition. The child is acceptable only if he or she meets certain standards or qualifications. With only one pole remaining, no balance between the two kinds of love is possible.
The practice of nurturing includes the balancing of conditional with unconditional love for the child and the transfer of moral authority to the grown child. To design one’s offspring, however, is to interfere with and render impossible the practice of nurturing. Life is not affirmed as an idea or an abstraction. The affirmation of life is necessarily the acceptance of this person or these people, this tree or these forests. When life is affirmed, the affirmation is always the acceptance of a living being or beings. The parental decision to nurture that follows the prescription “let there be life” is an unconditional approval of a living child, not of life as an idea or an abstraction. When the acceptance of a child depends on the conformity of the child to prior specifications or typing, the idea or type has priority over the living child. Human genetic engineering threatens to give priority to a type since, by taking treatment to the level of the genetic program itself, the practice renders the selection of a type possible in a way different in degree and kind from what has previously been possible in human experience.
If one uses competitive advantage as a measure for deciding which genetic enhancements should be employed, an unbridled competition will necessarily be unleashed. Should height, memory, temperament, etc. someday be subject to the choices of parents, the benefits of desired qualities may well lead parents to select for certain characteristics. Should no constraints on such choices be accepted, the competition would be endless and would produce, to borrow an expression from Hobbes, a war of everyone against everyone (Leviathan 163).
Perhaps the avoidance of competitive disadvantage will be advanced as a more workable standard for drawing a line on genetic enhancements. The standard could be established by regarding some present person or persons as the prototype for a particular characteristic under consideration. I assume that the genetic make-up relevant to the desired characteristic can be identified. These individuals would become the model of enhancement for other future individuals. Legal and social constraints would be established, according to this approach, by reference to such prototypes.
A competition could unintentionally be unleashed even when the avoidance of competitive disadvantage is sought. Should a single child or some children receive enhancement alterations that enable them to exceed the merits of the previous prototype, the more enhanced child or children would then become the prototype for later enhancements. The avoidance of competitive disadvantage, then, could very well lead to endless cycles of competition.
Perhaps even more serious than the endless cycles of competition is the affirmation of life as an idea or abstraction assumed in the competition. When life is affirmed as an idea, equality of opportunity comes to require an identity of physical and mental ability. A prototype has unwittingly become an ideal type when abstraction or type, not the living child, is the primary object of parental approval. To aim at producing a type of child for competition is to pursue an external good.
Whether children are enhanced for competitive advantage or to avoid competitive disadvantage, then, a type of child is sought, and a war of all against all is set in motion. To design children for competitive advantage is to aim exclusively at the pursuit of external goods. To design children in hopes of avoiding a competitive disadvantage for the child is to aim primarily at achieving external goods. A society, as MacIntyre says, that is interested only in the external goods is a society in Hobbes’ state of nature. Two important internal goods of nurturing are the balancing of the unconditional with the conditional love of the child and the forgiveness of the parent by the child. The attainment of these goods would be impossible, I maintain, if the goal of designing offspring is competitive advantage or the avoidance of disadvantage. The purpose and meaning that arise from the parental role are achieved when the child accepts the parent’s earlier decision to nurture. Such acceptance would be rendered impossible or nearly so if one pole of the nurturing relationship—the unconditional—were removed by the parent’s actions. The parent either would have to withhold the story of these decisions from the child or risk an identity collapse in the child. The family narrative would not continue if the parent’s account could not be told. If the family narrative could not be told, the practice of nurturing in that family would be threatened. Since the nurturing point of view is the moral point of view and the nurturing community the basic moral community, morality itself would be threatened.
The obligation theories cast the value conflict in human genetic engineering as a conflict between and among needs and rights. It seems to me, however, that the conflict is not primarily one of this sort. The value conflict in the genetic engineering of human offspring is a conflict between the pursuit of the external goods of size, memory, and temperament on the one hand and, on the other, the internal goods of balancing qualified and unqualified love for the ones we nurture. To balance needs and rights we need look no further than the modern obligation theorists. To balance internal with external goods, and qualified with unqualified love, we need the insights of the communitarian tradition.
The practice of parental nurturing is supported by the cure of fatal genetic diseases, but it is threatened by the genetic enhancement of children. Since the nurturing relationship is a necessary condition of morality, morality itself is threatened by the practice of enhancement. The virtues and obligations that arise from the practice of making and sustaining the filial community place moral constraints on parents to refrain from seeking genetic enhancement. Other decision-makers are constrained by an obligation and disposition to support the practice of filial nurturing.
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