Genetic engineering is an idea that, when first hearing it, just sounds unsettling to most but it is difficult to articulate why that is. “The Case Against Perfection” written by Michael J. Sandel perfectly explains the unarticulated reasons that many people do not like the idea of using genetic enhancement. Sandel thoroughly refutes the explanations that are commonly offered by people against genetic manipulation. Sandel uses the example of athletes gaining an advantage physically from genetic enhancement to express the true explanation for why genetic enhancement is unsettling. The common thought of why genetic enhancement is unfair in sports is that people would gain a huge advantage in their physical abilities due to the enhancement. However, Sandel points out that this is already the case. People are born with different genes that are more conducive to athletic achievement than others, granting them an advantage from the “genetics lottery”. This is also what Sandel refers to as the notion of giftedness. This is the true explanation for the unsettling nature of genetic manipulation.
By enhancing the genes of a person with technology, it takes away from the celebration of gifted talents humans possess, which is a large part of sports and society in general. Whether it is in terms of academic, athletic, or professional success, people are celebrated for having talents that others do not possess. We are amazed by the “gifts” people have and are conscious of the fact that a large part of a person’s success is due to good fortune, which creates some humility by the successful (although not always). With genetic manipulation there would be an even larger tendency than already exists among the rich and successful to believe they are fully responsible and more deserving of their success than the poor. People often thank God for their talents when they reach success. With religion aside, I think this speaks to the fact that we as humans recognize and appreciate life as a gift or something that was given to us that we are not necessarily fully responsible for or deserving of. The technology of genetic manipulation would abandon this conception of life and therefore create a more selfish and self righteous society.
Sandel, M. (2004, April 01). The Case Against Perfection. Retrieved November 04, 2020, from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2004/04/the-case-against-perfection/302927/