Transcript: Hans Kung on his autobiography, My Struggle for Freedom | Nov 02, 2003

Tim Falconer stands behind a lectern. He is in his forties, with short brown hair and balding. He wears a blue checked shirt.

A question appears on a black slate. It reads, "Should parents have the right to modify their children's genes?

Now, a caption on screen reads "Tim Falconer, journalist- moderator."

Tim says DESIGNER
BABIES, NOW THAT'S A CHILLING
TERM, ISN'T IT?
ECHOES OF NAZI EUGENICS AND ALL
SORTS OF SCARY THOUGHTS.
BUT LET'S FACE IT, A LOT OF
PARENTS WOULD BE TEMPTED BY AN
OPPORTUNITY FOR A LITTLE GENE
MANIPULATION, IF IT MEANT
CORRECTING GENETIC DISEASES, SO
THE BABY COULD BE BORN HEALTHY.

Now, a view of the auditorium appears on screen. On the left, Tim stands behind the lectern. To the right of the lectern, a man and a woman sit at a long table holding papers. A poster in the front of the table reads "Better humans." The audience sits in front of the table.

Tim continues ON THE OTHER HAND, MOST PEOPLE
AREN'T SO COMFORTABLE WITH THE
IDEA OF PARENTS MODIFYING THEIR
KIDS' GENES SO THEIR OFFSPRING
WOULD BE SMARTER, BETTER LOOKING
OR MORE ATHLETIC.
I MEAN ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS GO
TO A MINOR HOCKEY GAME TO SEE
PARENTS WHO'D JUMP AT THE CHANCE
TO HAVE THEIR KIDS...
JUMP AT THE CHANCE TO HAVE KIDS
WHO WOULD PLAY LIKE WAYNE
GRETZKY.
STILL, FOR THOSE WHO ARE EAGERLY
AWAITING THE ADVENT OF A POST
HUMAN SPECIES, THE POSSIBILITIES
ARE ALL VERY EXCITING.
THESE PEOPLE SEE A HUGE
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EUGENICS
DETERMINED BY A TOTALITARIAN
STATE, AND GENETIC MANIPULATION
DETERMINED BY FREE INDIVIDUALS.
THE OTHER SIDE, HOWEVER WORRY
THAT THE POTENTIAL HARM FOR...
WORRY ABOUT THE POTENTIAL FOR
HARM AND ABUSE.
AND THEY ARGUE THAT GENETIC
MANIPULATION COULD INCREASE THE
INEQUALITIES IN A SOCIETY AND
LEAD TO A LOSS OF IDENTITY AND
INDIVIDUALITY, AS WELL AS HUMAN
DIVERSITY.
LET'S FACE IT, IF EVERY KID
COULD PLAY LIKE MARIO LEMIEUX,
IT WOULDN'T BE SUCH A TREAT TO
WATCH HIM PLAY.
BUT I'M NOT GOING TO MAKE THE
ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST, SO
LET'S TURN TO OUR EXPERTS AGAIN.
JAMES YOU'RE UP FIRST THIS TIME.

James Hughes stands up and walks to the lectern while Tim sits.
James is in his forties, with short brown hair. He wears a black blazer with a white t-shirt underneath and glasses.

A caption on screen reads "James Hughes, bioethicist."

James says SO AGAIN, THE
ONLY GROUNDS THAT I ACCEPT FOR
PREVENTING INDIVIDUALS FROM
USING THESE TECHNOLOGIES ON
THEIR CHILDREN AND ON THEMSELVES
IS SAFETY.

Now, a caption on screen reads "Debating the future: should parents have the right to modify their children's genes? J.J.R MacLeod auditorium. University of Toronto, August 29, 2003."

James continues NOW I CAN BE PRESSED.
THERE COULD BE SOCIAL
CONSEQUENCES OF SOME OF THESE
TECHNOLOGIES WHICH I MIGHT
ACCEPT AS LEGITIMATE FOR
INTERFERING IN REPRODUCTIVE
DECISION MAKING.
BUT THE TECHNOLOGIES THAT WE'RE
TALKING ABOUT HERE, THE
ENHANCEMENT OF HUMAN ABILITIES,
GIVING PARENTS THE RIGHT TO
CHOOSE GENETIC CHARACTERISTICS
OF THEIR CHILDREN, WHICH I CALL
GERMINAL CHOICE.
I DON'T MAKE ANY DISTINCTION
REALLY BETWEEN ENHANCEMENT
REALLY AND THERAPY, AS I'LL GET
TO IN A SECOND.
HAVING THAT RIGHT TO GERMINAL
CHOICE, IN GENERAL I THINK WILL
BENEFIT PARENTS, CHILDREN AND
SOCIETY, AND I DON'T THINK THAT
VERY MANY OF THE CONCERNS BEYOND
SAFETY THAT PEOPLE TALK ABOUT
ARE LEGITIMATE.
IT IS NONSENSICAL, AS I SAID, TO
ARGUE THAT WE CAN NEVER ATTAIN
ENOUGH CONFIDENCE FOR INSTANCE,
ABOUT THE LONG TERM CONSEQUENCES
OF THE GENOME TO ALLOW THEIR
USE.
WE HAVE A SET OF PROCESSES FOR
DETERMINING THE SAFETY OF
CLINICAL MEDICINE.
THEY INCLUDE DOING ANIMAL
MODELS, AND EVENTUALLY ALLOWING
PATIENTS WITH EXTREME
CIRCUMSTANCES, EXTREME HEALTH
CONDITIONS TO BE TRIAL SUBJECTS
OF NEW THERAPIES.
AND I THINK WE WILL PURSUE
GENETIC THERAPIES, GERM LINE
THERAPIES, REPRODUCTIVE
THERAPIES IN EXACTLY THE SAME
WAY, EXCEPT THAT WE ARE NOW
BUILDING COMPUTER MODELS OF
THINGS LIKE E-COLI AND
EVENTUALLY, IT MAY TAKE SOME
TIME, BUT EVENTUALLY WE WILL
HAVE COMPUTER MODELS, VIRTUAL
HUMAN MODELS WHICH WILL ALLOW US
TO PREDICT THE CONSEQUENCES,
PROTEOMIC CONSEQUENCES AND OTHER
BIOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES OF THE
GENETIC MODIFICATIONS THAT WE
MAKE, AND SO WE WILL BE ABLE TO
GREATLY SPEED UP THE TIME IN
WHICH WE ARE GUARANTEED THE
SAFETY OF THESE TECHNOLOGIES.
MANY BIO-ETHICISTS ARGUE THAT
ENGINEERING ENHANCEMENTS INTO
OUR CHILDREN IS AN AUTHORITARIAN
INTRUSION ON THEM AND FUTURE
GENERATIONS WITHOUT THEIR
CONSENT, WHICH IS WRONG, I WANT
TO ARGUE, ON AT LEAST 4 GROUNDS.
FIRST, WE, AS PARENTS ARE GIVEN
A TRUST TO ACT IN OUR CHILDREN'S
BEST INTEREST, INCLUDING THE
DECISION TO CREATE THEM IN THE
FIRST PLACE.
THE VAST MAJORITY OF PARENTS,
EMPOWERED WITH PROCREATIVE
CHOICE, WILL DECIDE TO MAKE
THEIR CHILDREN, I'M QUITE SURE,
BRIGHTER, HEALTHIER, AND
STRONGER, WHICH WE CAN ALL
ASSUME THAT THEY WILL
APPRECIATE, AND WHICH IS GOOD
FOR THE PARENTS, AND GOOD FOR
THE SOCIETY, AND GOOD FOR THE
KIDS.
AND SO I THINK GIVING PARENTS IN
GENERAL THIS RIGHT OF GERMINAL
CHOICE WILL BE GOOD FOR
EVERYBODY, AND IT WILL NOT BE
ABUSED IN GENERAL.
I'LL TALK ABOUT ABUSE IN A
SECOND.
SECOND, IT IS PARENTS' AND
SOCIETY'S OBLIGATION TO PROVIDE
THE BEST HEALTH AND SET OF
ABILITIES FOR THEIR CHILDREN
WHEN THEY HAVE THAT OPTION.
I CALL THAT THE OBLIGATION OF
PROCREATIVE BENEFICENCE.
IF YOU HAVE THE OPTION TO MAKE
YOUR KID 20 POINTS SMARTER
THROUGH SOME ACT OF YOUR OWN, IF
YOU KNOW, FOR INSTANCE THAT
DRINKING ALCOHOL DURING
PREGNANCY WILL MAKE YOUR KID BE
SICKER, IT'S YOUR OBLIGATION NOT
TO DRINK ALCOHOL DURING
PREGNANCY.
SIMILARLY, IF YOU COULD TAKE A
VITAMIN DURING PREGNANCY, LIKE
FOLIC ACID TO MAKE SURE YOUR KID
DOESN'T HAVE SPINA BIFIDA, IT'S
YOUR OBLIGATION TO TAKE THAT.
NOW NOT EVERYONE KNOWS THAT, NOT
EVERYONE HAS ACCESS TO IT, BUT
IT'S OUR OBLIGATION NONETHELESS.
WE SHOULD TRY TO CARRY OUT THAT
OBLIGATION TO THAT FUTURE
PERSON.
AND SIMILARLY, WHEN WE HAVE
THESE TECHNOLOGIES, IT WILL BE
OUR OBLIGATION AS PARENTS AND AS
A SOCIETY TO MAKE THEM
UNIVERSALLY AVAILABLE TO PARENTS
SO THAT THEY CAN USE THEM.
THE IDEA THAT SOCIETY, OR
INDIVIDUAL PARENTS SHOULD BE
INDIFFERENT TO WHETHER THEIR
CHILDREN ARE BRIGHT, OR
RETARDED, OR WHETHER THEY ARE
ABLE BODIED OR DISABLED, OR HAVE
LONG LIVES OR SHORT LIVES...
THAT IS A MORALLY BANKRUPT IDEA.
IT'S AN IDEA THAT I CAN'T
UNDERSTAND, HOW YOU COULD
POSSIBLY ARGUE THAT PARENTS
SHOULD BE INDIFFERENT TOWARDS
THE FATE OF THEIR CHILDREN.
THIRD, IT IS VERY FEW PARENTS
WHO WANT TO TRY TO ENGINEER
THEIR CHILDREN IN WAYS THAT
WOULD REDUCE THEIR CAPACITY FOR
CHOICE.
IF PARENTS WANTED TO ENGINEER
THEIR CHILDREN TO BE MORE
GULLIBLE, OR TO ENGINEER THEM TO
BE STUPID, OR TO ENGINEER THEM
TO NOT BE ABLE TO READ, THEN
PERFECTLY OBVIOUS CASE FOR
SOCIAL INTERVENTION.
FOURTH, OUR TECHNOLOGY WILL
CONTINUE TO ADVANCE AND WE WILL
BE ABLE TO REPAIR, AND OUR
CHILDREN WILL BE ABLE TO REPAIR
IN THEMSELVES, ANYTHING THAT WE
DO TO THEM.
SO IT'S NOT A STATIC DECISION.
FINALLY, I ALSO TAKE ISSUE WITH
THIS LINE BETWEEN THERAPY AND
ENHANCEMENT.
WOULD AN ANTI-AGING SHOT, WHICH
PREVENTED CANCER, HEART DISEASE
AND DEMENTIA, AND EXTENDED OUR
LIFE EXPECTANCY TO 120 YEARS, BE
A THERAPY OR WOULD IT BE AN
ENHANCEMENT.
I WOULD THINK MARGARET
PRESUMABLY AGREES THAT...
THE REASON I BRING THIS UP IS
THAT MARGARET PRESUMABLY AGREES
THAT YOU CAN HAVE GENETIC
INTERVENTIONS WHICH TAKE AWAY
DISEASES, BUT YOU CAN'T HAVE
GENETIC INTERVENTIONS WHICH
SOMEHOW ENHANCE YOU.
IF SHE DOESN'T, I'LL HEAR ABOUT
IT SHORTLY.
FINALLY, MANY PEOPLE ARE
CONCERNED, AS I AM, THAT THE
AVAILABILITY OF ENHANCEMENTS IN
A MARKETPLACE WILL EXACERBATE
INEQUALITY, AS WE'VE SAID MANY
TIMES.
AND BECAUSE I VALUE PROCREATIVE
LIBERTY AND I THINK THAT WE WILL
STILL BENEFIT FROM MARKET
ENHANCEMENTS EVEN IF THEY AREN'T
UNIVERSALLY AVAILABLE, I DON'T
THINK THAT THAT IS A GROUND FOR
BANNING THEM.
I THINK WE SHOULD ALLOW THEM
EVEN IF WE CAN'T PROVIDE THEM
UNIVERSALLY.
BUT WE DO HAVE A CLEAR MORAL
IMPERATIVE TO MAKE THEM
UNIVERSALLY AVAILABLE AS SOON AS
POSSIBLE... THANKS.

[Applause]

Now, Margaret Somerville stands up and walks to the lectern as James sits down.
Margaret is in her forties with short blonde hair. She wears a black blazer over a patterned blouse and glasses.

A caption on screen reads "Margaret Somerville, bioethicist."

Margaret says WELL AS
YOU'D EXPECT, I DISAGREE.
BUT WHAT'S INTERESTING ABOUT
THIS IS THIS WHOLE, THROUGH THE
DEBATE, THE BASIS ON WHICH WE
DISAGREE IS THE SAME ACROSS ALL
THESE ISSUES.
SO FOR ME, LIKE CLONING, AND THE
QUESTION OF THE RESPECT FOR THE
TRANSMISSION OF HUMAN LIFE THAT
THAT RAISES, THIS IS ANOTHER NEW
QUESTION THAT WE'RE THE FIRST
HUMANS TO FACE, AND THAT IS
BECAUSE WE'RE THE FIRST TO BE
ABLE TO MODIFY THE ESSENCE OF
HUMAN LIFE ITSELF, THE HUMAN
GERM CELL LINE.
AND WHEN WE THINK THAT THAT
HUMAN GERM CELL LINE AS IT
STANDS, AND UP UNTIL ABOUT 5
YEARS AGO, WHICH IS WHEN WE
COULD HAVE PROBABLY FIRST
INTERVENED ON IT, THAT'S THE
RESULT OF APPROXIMATELY 800
MILLION YEARS OF EVOLUTION, AND
WE CAN NOW CHANGE IT IN
NANOSECONDS.
THAT'S AN AWESOME POWER, AND
THAT POWER HAS TO BE GOVERNED BY
THE MOST STRINGENT ETHICAL
APPROACHES TO WHAT WE COULD DO
AND WHAT WE MUST NOT DO.
NOW INTERESTINGLY, THERE'S AGAIN
A WIDELY SHARED, ALTHOUGH IT'S
NOT A UNIVERSAL VIEW, THAT IT'S
INHERENTLY WRONG TO INTERVENE ON
THE HUMAN GERM CELL LINE.
AND THE EUROPEANS ACTUALLY HAVE
ARTICULATED THIS VIEW, AND THEY
HAVE IT IN SOME OF THEIR LEGAL
INSTRUMENTS, THAT THERE'S AN
OBLIGATION TO HOLD THE GERM CELL
LINE ON TRUST, THAT IS, UN-
INTERFERED WITH FOR FUTURE
GENERATIONS.
AND ACTUALLY, IN CANADA THERE'S
CURRENTLY A BILL BEFORE THE
FEDERAL PARLIAMENT, BILL C-13 ON
THE NEW REPRODUCTIVE
TECHNOLOGIES THAT WOULD ENACT
THAT AS LAW IN CANADA.
THERE WOULD BE A TOTAL
PROHIBITION ON ALTERATION OF THE
HUMAN GERM CELL LINE.
AND THERE'S 2 SETS OF REASONS
FOR PROHIBITING THAT
INTERVENTION.
ONE IS THAT IT'S INHERENTLY
WRONG, THEREFORE NO MATTER HOW
MUCH GOOD COULD COME OUT OF IT,
WE SHOULDN'T DO IT, OR SECONDLY,
AND THIS IS SORT OF ALONG THE
LINES OF WHAT JAMES WOULD AGREE
WITH, THAT YOU SHOULDN'T DO IT
UNTIL IT'S REASONABLY SAFE, AND
IT'S NOT SAFE.
BUT THAT MEANS THAT IF IT DOES
BECOME SAFE, IT WOULD BE
ALLOWED.
AND JAMES HAS ALREADY GIVEN YOU
THE ARGUMENT THAT, LIKE IN THE
QUESTION...
YOU REMEMBER THE OLD QUESTION
WHEN THEY WERE ARGUING FOR
EUTHANASIA, THEY USED TO...
THE PLAY CALLED, "WHO'S DEATH IS
IT ANYWAY?"
WELL THE EQUIVALENT QUESTION IN
THIS AREA IS, "WHO'S BABY IS IT
ANYWAY?
IT'S MY BABY, WHY CAN'T I DESIGN
IT THE WAY I WANT IT, AND IT'S
ANOTHER MANIFESTATION OF INTENSE
INDIVIDUALISM AND ABSOLUTE
REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS, WHICH WE'VE
JUST HEARD PRESENTED.
AND SO POSITIVE EUGENICS,
BECAUSE IT IS EUGENICS, IS
DESIGNER BABIES, WHAT LEE SILVER
FROM PRINCETON CALLS, "THE GENE
RICH," AND HE CALLS THE REST OF
IT, "THE GENE POOR."
HOWEVER THERE'S A MUCH LESS
PUBLICISED DISCUSSION THAT THERE
COULD ALSO BE DIS-ENHANCEMENT OF
EMBRYOS, BECAUSE WITH ALL THESE
SUPER INTELLIGENT KIDS AROUND
THEY'LL NEED A SPECIAL CLASS OF
PEOPLE WHO WILL WANT TO DO THE
BORING JOBS.
AND THERE'S ALSO NEGATIVE
EUGENICS HERE, IN THAT THERE'S
PRE-IMPLANTATION GENETIC
DIAGNOSIS, AND PRENATAL
SCREENING, AND THAT'S ALREADY
GOING ON.
AND WE ARE IN THE PROCESS OF
ELIMINATING WHOLE GROUPS OF
PEOPLE.
FOR INSTANCE, THEY ESTIMATE IT
WILL BE VERY UNLIKELY DOWNS
SYNDROME KIDS WILL BE BORN IN
THE FUTURE, AND PERHAPS THE
PROFOUNDLY DEAF, AND ALSO
BECAUSE THEY'RE FINDING A GENE
FOR MANIC DEPRESSION, MAYBE
WE'LL WIPE OUT ALL MANIC
DEPRESSIVES, AND PROBABLY WITH
THAT, SOME OF OUR MOST CREATIVE
AND ARTISTIC PEOPLE.
BUT YOU KNOW IT'S INTERESTING,
BECAUSE IF WE HAD A FURTHER
SCIENTIFIC ADVANCE THAT WE COULD
ACTUALLY SCREEN SPERM AND OVA
BEFORE WE MADE AN EMBRYO, WE
WOULD ACTUALLY SOLVE THE ETHICAL
PROBLEMS OF THROWING OUT THOSE
EMBRYOS OR ABORTING THOSE
FOETUSES.
SO SOMETIMES-- AND I THINK
THAT'S AN IMPORTANT THING TO
REALISE, THAT SOMETIMES, SOME
ADVANCES IN SCIENCE CAN SOLVE
ETHICAL PROBLEMS RATHER THAN
CREATE THEM.
AND GERM CELL LINE ALTERNATION
GOES TO THE NATURE OF HUMAN
IDENTITY AND PERSONAL IDENTITY,
AND HERE AGAIN, THE QUESTION IS,
WHAT IMPACT MIGHT TECHNOLOGIZING
NOT ONLY OUR WORLD, BUT OUR VERY
SELVES AND OUR CHILDREN, HAVE ON
OUR SENSE OF IDENTITY.
DESIGNING CHILDREN IS
IRREVERSIBLE AND IT IS NON
THERAPEUTIC.
AND THAT IS IMPORTANT, NOT
BECAUSE WE DON'T DO SOME NON
THERAPEUTIC THINGS, AND THEY'RE
ACCEPTABLE, BUT BECAUSE
IRREVERSIBLE AND NON THERAPEUTIC
ARE ETHICAL RED FLAGS.
MOREOVER, THERE'S A NEW BOOK OUT
BY THE GERMAN PHILOSOPHER JÜRGEN
HABERMAS, CALLED "THE FUTURE OF
HUMAN NATURE."
AND HE SAYS, AND I FOUND THIS AN
EXTRAORDINARILY INTERESTING
ARGUMENT, AND I'D LIKE TO HEAR
WHAT JAMES HAS TO SAY.
BECAUSE JAMES IS PROPOSING
TECHNOLOGY AND DEMOCRACY GO HAND
IN HAND.
HABERMAS IS ARGUING EXACTLY THE
OPPOSITE.
HE SAYS THAT THESE INTERVENTIONS
ON THE HUMAN GERM CELL LINE GO
TO THE VERY HEART OF DEMOCRACY.
BECAUSE THE PRECONDITION OF
DEMOCRACY IS THAT WE ARE ALL
EQUAL AND WE ARE ALL FREE.
YOU CAN'T HAVE DEMOCRACY WITHOUT
THAT... AND THAT A CHILD WHO HAS
BEEN DESIGNED IS NOT FREE,
BECAUSE WE NEED A SENSE OF THE
CONTINGENCY OF OUR ORIGINS, THAT
THEY WEREN'T DETERMINED BY ANY
OTHER HUMAN TO BE FREE, NOR IS
THE CHILD EQUAL, AND CERTAINLY
NOT EQUAL TO THE DESIGNER.
SO I THINK THESE ARE VERY
PROFOUND QUESTIONS, WHERE WE
NEED SOME PERHAPS RADICALLY
INNOVATIVE PHILOSOPHICAL THOUGHT
THAT ISN'T SIMPLY APPROVAL OF
RADICAL TECHNOLOGY... THANK YOU.

[Applause]

Now, Tim stands and walks to the lectern as Margaret sits.

Tim says JAMES, YOU HAVE
3 MINUTES.

James says OKAY, WELL
FIRST ABOUT GENOME AS A TRUST.
THE EUROPEAN LANGUAGE ON THIS
AND CONCEPT IS ABSURD.
IT'S COMPARABLE TO YOUR PARENTS
SAYING TO YOU, YOU KNOW, THE
CHILDHOOD HOME THAT YOU WERE
RAISED IN IS A TRUST, AND WE'RE
GOING TO PASS IT ON TO YOU
WITHOUT DOING ANYTHING TO IT.
AS THE SHINGLES FALL OFF, WE'RE
JUST GOING TO LEAVE THEM ON THE
GROUND.
AS THE GRASS GROWS, WE WON'T MOW
IT BECAUSE WE THINK THAT THAT'S
THE WAY THAT YOU WOULD LIKE IT,
UNCHANGED.
AND YOU SAY, WELL CAN'T YOU
BUILD A SWIMMING POOL OR PUT A
PORCH ON, OR SOMETHING?
CAN'T YOU MAKE IT A LITTLE BIT
NICER.
AND THEY SAY, NO, NO, IT'S GOING
TO BE A SACRED TRUST FOR YOU.
AS TO HABERMAS, I READ THE BOOK.
AND BASICALLY HABERMAS IS
RECYCLING C.S. LEWIS' ARGUMENT,
AS I SAID, THAT SOMEHOW WE ARE
IMPOSING AN AUTHORITARIAN REGIME
ON OUR CHILDREN BY ENHANCING
THEIR ABILITIES, EXCEPT THAT HE
HAS A 2 SENTENCE LINE IN THE
BOOK, 2 SENTENCES, WHERE HE
SAYS, "THIS WOULD NOT BE TRUE IF
ACTUALLY THESE ENHANCEMENTS
INCREASED CITIZENS' ABILITIES TO
MAKE THEIR OWN DECISIONS.
WELL WHO IS TALKING ABOUT TAKING
AWAY PEOPLE'S ABILITIES TO MAKE
THEIR OWN DECISIONS?
NO PARENT THAT I KNOW IS SAYING,
I WANT TO ENHANCE MY KID SO THAT
THEY WON'T BE ABLE TO MAKE
DECISIONS, SO THAT THEY WON'T BE
ABLE TO TIE THEIR SHOES, SO THAT
THEY WON'T BE ABLE TO LEARN TO
READ.
EVERYBODY'S TALKING ABOUT
WANTING MORE INTELLIGENCE, MORE
DECISION MAKING POWER.
THE OTHER THING THAT HE SAYS IS
ENHANCEMENT WILL MAKE US LESS
EQUAL.
WELL THIS IS ONLY TRUE IF WE
ALLOW IT TO.
AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH
WHETHER WE HAVE ENHANCEMENTS OR
NOT, IT'S WHETHER WE HAVE AN
UNEQUAL SOCIETY THAT REFUSES TO
ALLOW THESE TECHNOLOGIES TO BE
UNIVERSALLY AVAILABLE.
IF THEY ARE UNIVERSALLY
AVAILABLE, THEY WILL, IF
ANYTHING, MAKE US MORE EQUAL.
BECAUSE EVERY PARENT WILL HAVE
ACCESS TO GENES THAT WILL THEN
ALLOW THEIR KIDS TO HAVE MUSICAL
ABILITY, WHATEVER THE THINGS ARE
THAT WE WANT, AND WE'LL BECOME A
MORE DIVERSE SOCIETY AS WELL,
AND DIVERSE IN THE IMPORTANT
WAYS, DIVERSE...
CHINESE KIDS WILL NOT START
LOOKING LIKE BRITNEY SPEARS, I
GUARANTEE IT, BUT WE WILL BECOME
MORE DIVERSE IN THE WAYS OF
TALENT AND ABILITY, JUST AS
INTELLIGENT, BRIGHT, HEALTHY, ABLE BODIED
PEOPLE ARE DIVERSE IN MANY, MANY
DIFFERENT WAYS.
WE WILL BE LESS DIVERSE IN TERMS
OF DISABILITY.
AND THEN I ASK THE QUESTION,
WHAT IS THE IDEAL PERCENT OF THE
POPULATION WHO SHOULD HAVE
DOWNS.
IF WE'RE GOING TO START MAKING
PUBLIC POLICY ABOUT THE GENETIC
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE NEXT
GENERATION, WHICH IS APPARENTLY
THE PROPOSAL, WHICH I KEEP
SAYING IS EUGENICS.
I MEAN IT IS EUGENICS IF WE
START MAKING PUBLIC POLICY THAT
SAYS A CERTAIN PERCENTAGE OF THE
POPULATION HAS TO HAVE X AND Y
GENE CHARACTERISTICS IN THE NEXT
GENERATION.
IF WE'RE GOING TO MAKE THAT
PUBLIC POLICY, WHAT PERCENTAGE
OF THE NEXT GENERATION SHOULD BE
SCHIZOPHRENIC?
I WOULD SUGGEST THAT IT SHOULD
BE PUBLIC POLICY THAT IT SHOULD
BE AS LOW AS POSSIBLE, RIGHT?
IF WE'RE GOING TO MAKE THAT
PUBLIC POLICY, WE SHOULD HAVE A
COMMITMENT TO MAKE THAT AS LOW
AS POSSIBLE.
AND THE BEST WAY TO DO IT IS TO
MAKE TECHNOLOGIES UNIVERSALLY
AVAILABLE THAT WILL ALLOW
PARENTS TO DO WHAT IS IN THE
BEST INTEREST OF THEMSELVES AS
PARENTS WHO WOULD NOT...
IF EVERYTHING WAS EQUAL, WANT TO
RAISE A DISABLED CHILD, AND TO
IMPROVE THE LIFE OF THE CHILDREN
THAT THEY RAISE.
NOW DOES THAT MEAN THAT I DON'T
LOVE DISABLED PEOPLE?
MY DAUGHTER HAS TOURETTE
SYNDROME.
THAT MEANS THAT SHE TWITCHES AND
GRUNTS AND SQUEAKS AND SHE'S 10
YEARS OLD AND SHE'S FACING
ADOLESCENCE.
AND IT TEARS MY HEART OUT EVERY
DAY WHEN SHE GOES TO SCHOOL.
BECAUSE I DON'T KNOW WHAT IT
WOULD HAVE BEEN LIKE TO FACE
ADOLESCENCE WITH THOSE KINDS OF
DISABILITIES.
AND I'M PARTLY GENETICALLY
RESPONSIBILITY, BECAUSE IT WAS
MY ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER
AND MY WIFE'S ATTENTION DEFICIT
DISORDER GENES WHICH COMBINED
TOGETHER TO GIVE HER THAT
TOURETTE SYNDROME.
I LOVE MY KID, AND IF I COULD
HAVE CHANGED THAT CHARACTERISTIC
ABOUT HER, IT WOULD HAVE BEEN
SOMETHING I WOULD HAVE DONE, AND
UNFORTUNATELY I DIDN'T HAVE THAT
POWER.
AND I SUGGEST THAT EVERY PARENT
WOULD LIKE THAT POWER.
FINALLY, ABOUT LAWS TO CHANGE
GERM LINE INTERVENTION.
NEW ZEALAND IS ALSO CONSIDERING
A LAW TO LEGALISE GERM LINE
INTERVENTION, AND I'M VERY
EXCITED ABOUT THAT.
I THINK IT GOES RIGHT ALONG WITH
THEIR LAW TO PROTECT
GREAT APES.

Tim says MARGARET?

Margaret says YEAH, I
DON'T REMEMBER READING IN
HABERMAS THAT HE WOULD WITHDRAW
FROM THAT POSITION IF IT
INCREASED THE ABILITY TO MAKE
YOUR OWN DECISIONS.

James says 2 SENTENCES.

Margaret says WELL, I
WOULD HAVE TO...
I WOULD REALLY BE GRATEFUL IF
YOU WOULD TELL ME WHEREABOUTS IT
IS, BECAUSE I'D WANT TO LOOK AT
IT.
BECAUSE HE ACTUALLY USED
KIERKEGAARD'S BASIC PHILOSOPHY
OF THE POWER TO BE ONESELF, AND
WHAT WAS NECESSARY FOR THE
REALISATION OF THE SELF.
AND HE SAID ABSOLUTELY AS FAR AS
I READ THE BOOK, THAT NOT TO
HAVE A SENSE OF THE CONTINGENCY
OF YOUR ORIGINS, WHICH HAS GOT
NOTHING TO DO WITH BEING
ENHANCED OR DISENHANCED, WAS THE
REASON WHY THAT WASN'T ACCEPTABLE.

James says DID YOUR
PARENTS MAKE A DECISION TO HAVE
YOU?

Margaret says I'M
TALKING ABOUT HABERMAS NOW.

James says WELL I'M
TALKING ABOUT CHILDREN.

Margaret says I'VE GOT
NO IDEA WHETHER MY PARENTS MADE
A DECISION TO HAVE ME.
I ACTUALLY NEVER ASKED THEM.

James says WOULD YOU FEEL
THAT IT HAD ROBBED YOU OF
SOMETHING IN YOUR LIFE IF THEY
MADE YOU AS A PLANNED DECISION
RATHER THAN AN UNPLANNED
DECISION?

Margaret says BUT I
THINK THAT IS QUITE DIFFERENT.

James says WHY IS IT
DIFFERENT?

Margaret says BECAUSE
YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING TO THAT
CHILD THAT IS...
THAT IT DOESN'T HAVE IT'S OWN...
I MEAN TO COME BACK TO THE TERM
I USED, IT DOESN'T HAVE ITS OWN
UNIQUE TICKET, LIKE YOU HAD, IN
THE PASSING ON OF HUMAN LIFE.
NOW I CAN UNDERSTAND BECAUSE OF
YOUR DAUGHTER, AND THAT'S A VERY
POWERFUL STORY AND YOU THINK,
WELL IF I COULD CHANGE THAT
TICKET, I'D WANT TO.
AND ACTUALLY, SORT OF IN A FUNNY
WAY, THE ONE THING THAT I'VE
ACTUALLY WRITTEN ABOUT WHERE I'M
NOT SURE THAT AN ABSOLUTELY BAN
ON ALTERING THE HUMAN GERM CELL
LINE IS JUSTIFIED, IS BECAUSE I
THINK IF YOU COULD SAFELY CHANGE
ONE DELETERIOUS GENE AND KNOW
THAT IT WAS SAFE TO DO THAT.
I MEAN ONE OF THE PROBLEMS IS
THAT GENES ARE PLEIOTROPIC,
WHICH MEANS THAT THEY PERFORM
MUCH MORE THAN ONE FUNCTION, SO
YOU WOULDN'T KNOW WHAT ELSE YOU
WERE CHANGING, BUT THEN MAYBE I
WOULD ACTUALLY CONSIDER ALLOWING
THAT, BUT OF COURSE THE DANGER
YOU OPEN UP IS THEN YOU SAY IT'S
ACCEPTABLE TO CHANGE THE GERM
CELL LINE.

James says MARGARET, AS I
UNDERSTAND YOUR POSITION, YOU DON'T
HAVE ANY PROBLEM WITH PEOPLE
CHANGING THEIR OWN GENOME, IS
THAT CORRECT?

Margaret says WITH A SOMATIC CELL
INTERFERENCE?
NO, NO PROBLEM.

James says OKAY, AND THEN
IF THEY WERE TO CHANGE THEIR OWN
GENOME WITH SOMATIC CELL THERAPY
THAT ALSO GOT INTO THEIR
REPRODUCTIVE CELLS, WOULD YOU THEN
BE FOR A LAW WHICH SAID
THEY COULDN'T REPRODUCE?

Margaret says NO.

James says GOOD.
YEAH, BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE
UNFORTUNATE.

Margaret says YEAH,
BUT THAT'S QUITE DIFFERENT,
BECAUSE YOU...

James says WHY IS THAT
DIFFERENT?

Margaret says BECAUSE
YOU DON'T HAVE A DIRECT
INTERVENTION WITH THE INTENTION
OF CHANGING THE REPRODUCTIVE...
THE GERM CELL LINE GENES.

James says SO AS LONG AS I
TAKE OUT THE ADD GENE, AND THE
TOURETTE'S GENE, AND THE CANCER
GENE...

Margaret says NO.

James says AND CREATE A
LONGEVITY GENE IN MYSELF, AND
THEN DECIDE TO HAVE CHILDREN
WITH MY WIFE WHO'S ALSO DONE
THAT, THEN THAT WOULD BE
ACCEPTABLE.

Margaret says BUT THAT
WOULD NOT AFFECT YOUR GERM CELL
LINE IF WHAT YOU WERE DOING WAS
SOMATIC THERAPY, IT JUST DOESN'T
WORK THAT WAY.

James says WELL ACTUALLY,
SOMATIC THERAPY, WHICH IS
SUCCESSFUL, WHICH GOES
THROUGHOUT ALL THE BODY, YOU
KNOW, MOST OF THE THERAPIES ARE
JUST TARGETED TO SPECIFIC
TISSUES RIGHT NOW.

Margaret says BUT IT
WON'T GO TO THE GERM CELLS.

James says ACTUALLY, IT
COULD, AND IF PARENTS WANT THEM
TO, IT COULD, AND THEN YOU'RE
TELLING ME THAT, YOU KNOW...
SO YOU PASS A LAW THAT SAYS THAT
PARENTS SHOULDN'T TRY TO CHANGE
THEIR REPRODUCTIVE CELLS, BUT IF
THEY HAPPEN TO CHANGE THEIR
REPRODUCTIVE CELLS WITH SOMATIC
THERAPY, THEN YOU'RE NOT FOR
BANNING THEM FROM REPRODUCING,
AND THEREFORE WE'RE GOING TO
HAVE GENETIC GERM LINE
INTERVENTION, AND I AGREE THAT
IT'S A GOOD IDEA.

Margaret says DO YOU
KNOW THE PRINCIPLE OF DOUBLE
EFFECT?

James says YES, I KNOW THE
PRINCIPLE OF DOUBLE EFFECT.
IT'S A GREAT SOPHISTRY THAT
PHYSICIANS USE TO SAY THAT WHEN
THEY KILL PATIENTS BY GIVING
THEM MORPHINE, THEY'RE ACTUALLY
JUST CURING THEIR PAIN, AND NOT
ACTUALLY KILLING THEM, AND IT
ALLOWS PEOPLE LIKE YOU TO SAY
THAT YOU CAN GIVE PEOPLE LOTS
AND LOTS OF MORPHINE AND IT'S
NOT ACTUALLY EUTHANASIA.
THE PRINCIPLE OF DOUBLE EFFECT
WHEN IT APPLIES TO PEOPLE CURING
A DISEASE IN THEIR OWN BODY AND
THEN HAVING CHILDREN, IS JUST
THAT.
THEY CURE THE DISEASE IN THEIR
OWN BODY, AND THEN THEY HAVE
CHILDREN.
IT'S NOT DOUBLE EFFECT, IT'S
WHAT PEOPLE WOULD NATURALLY
WANT TO DO.
THEY DON'T WANT TO HAVE THE
DISEASE THEMSELVES, AND THEY
DON'T WANT THEIR KIDS TO HAVE IT
EITHER.

Watch: Hans Kung on his autobiography, My Struggle for Freedom