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Babies by Design: The Ethics of Genetic Choice 1st Edition

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0300125467
ISBN-10: 0300125461
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his latest, Dartmouth College bioethicist Green (The Human Embryo Research Debates) embraces a vision of future parenthood bound to stir controversy, arguing that parents will, and should, give children the advantage of more "attractive physical features." Starting with the assumption that "we are entering the era of directed human evolution," he suggests that coming methods of in vitro fertilization will allow parents to genetically pre-select babies, not only to eliminate diseases like cystic fibrosis, but to promote what he calls "cosmetico-genomics." Scenario in place, Green explores a number of racially-charged hypotheticals: "Will dark-skinned African American parents choose to have lighter-skinned children?" Will Jewish parents use genetic rhinoplasty to change a "Jewish nose"? Will Asian-Americans "westernize" their children's eyes? Green answers that parents are right to reduce the unfair but very real social burdens facing their offspring, and dismisses objections as "status quo bias." Although he's peppered his argument with disclaimers that his vision would not reopen the door to the eugenics movements (the kind that underpinned Nazi Germany's genocidal master plan), readers may come away unconvinced; either way, this provoking book provides a rare, cogent look at the "plusses" of genetically enhanced offspring.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Green has actively engaged the topic of genetic engineering by not only providing the latest science, but by presenting arguments with all their attendant emotional baggage. The combination is a powerful one, but comes off exceptionally well.”—Eric M. Meslin, Indiana University Center for Bioethics
(Eric M. Meslin)

“Not only is Green’s scholarship rock-solid, he is also the most balanced and thoughtful of the many analysts in this area—neither an avid supporter who believes in science above all, nor an arch conservative who would take us back to the dark ages.”—Dean H. Hamer, molecular biologist and author of The Science of Desire, Living with Our Genes and The God Gene
(Dean H. Hamer)

“Green presents ethical positions and arguments in the context of modern thought, and in a language that will be accessible to scholars, scientists and lay-people.”—Lee Silver, Princeton University
(Lee Silver)

"With his close and sound attention to the relevant science and his attention to the relevant religious, ethical, and policy perspectives and debates, Green has offered a well-integrated set of arguments that can serve to educate and guide students in courses in college and policy makers alike."—James F. Childress, John Allen Hollingsworth Professor of Ethics, Institute for Practical Ethics and Public Life, University of Virginia
(James F. Childress)

“This is a brilliant and provocative book by one of the top—and most visionary—bioethicists in the world. It takes us into the era of directed human evolution, which may soon redefine people’s relationships, capabilities, and even our concepts of freedom and justice.”—Robert Lanza, Vice President of Research and Scientific Development at Advanced Cell Technology
(Robert Lanza)

“In this clear-eyed and generally optimistic book, both promise and risk are ably weighed and balanced. The science is clearly explained, and there are signposts to help guide us through the moral maze.”—Economist

"By providing examples, contextualizing issues within the framework of stories in popular fiction, and presenting a balanced view of the topics, the author allows the reader to fully explore the issues embedded in the scientific transformation created by the genomic revolution."—Nancy A. Ridenour, Science Books & Films
(Nancy A. Ridenour Science Books & Films 2008-04-01)

“Green has written for a broad readership of nonspecialists. . . . accessible and engaging--qualities that are rare in the bioethics literature.”--Commonweal
(Commonweal 2010-04-09)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; 1 edition (November 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300125461
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300125467
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.9 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,756,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ronald M. Green is a leading scholar of theoretical and applied ethics who has taught since 1969 at Dartmouth College, where he has also served as Director of Dartmouth's Ethics Institute. A summa cum laude graduate of Brown, with a PHD in religious ethics from Harvard, Professor Green is the author of eight books, co-author or editor of four, and has published over one hundred fifty articles in theoretical and applied ethics. In 1998, he was elected president of the Society of Christian Ethics. In 2005, Prof. Green was named a Guggenheim Fellow.

Much of Green's work has been in the field of bioethics. He currently serves on the Bioethics Advisory Committee of the March of Dimes. In 1994 he was a member of the Human Embryo Research Panel of the NIH, a blue ribbon commission appointed to recommend policy for federal funding of research on the preimplantation human embryo. That panel was the first to recommend federal funding of human embryonic stem cell research. Following that in 1996-97, Professor Green served as founding Director of the Office of Genome Ethics at the NIH. He currently serves, pro bono, as the chair of the Ethics Advisory Board of Advanced Cell Technology, a company involved in embryonic stem cell research. He has twice served as Chair of Dartmouth's Religion Department.

From 1987-1992 Green taught business and organizational ethics at Dartmouth's Amos Tuck School of Business. He has consulted on ethics for many organizations, including Bristol-Myers Squibb, Ogilvy & Mather, Philips Electronics, and the National Security Agency. His book, The Ethical Manager, is still in use in business schools around the world.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Joseph VINE VOICE on December 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Babies By Design is one of the few books I've encountered that's not overtly biased either in favor of, or against, human genetic enhancement. Professor Green offers a nuanced analysis of these pressing ethical issues, written in a conversational style that draws upon real-world and fictional material and doesn't require a PhD in biochemistry to decipher. If human genetic enhancement is a subject of interest to you, this one is well worth your time.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Hande Z on June 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very enjoyable book about the ethics of genetic engineering, a topic that may ensure that the dinner conversation go right past midnight. Ronald Green raises more questions than answers, but he makes it clear where he stands. He is all for the advancement of genetic research that may potentially be used to correct genetic defects and shortcomings. In most of the subjects discussed, he presents all the major views - whether for or against. In the chapter 'Will we create "Genobility"' he discussed John Rawls' 'Theory of Justice' with some absorbing views about it's outdatedness. Lawyers and philosophers will certainly find this chapter fascinating. 'Playing God' draws upon the questions of the religious aversion of man playing the role of his maker. Is the human eye proof of an intelligent or unintelligent design? That is one of the questions discussed here. What fascinated me most about this book is its references to famous books and films of fiction that has genetic manipulation as a central theme - 'Never Let Me Go', Ishiguro; Beggars in Spain', Leisha Camden; 'Dawn', Olivia Butler; 'Gattaca'; 'Island' (latter two are films). The reader must not expect discussions of deep and dense theories of ethics here. That did not seem to be the purpose of the book. It is a book that is wide-ranging in its coverage of genetic activities in the presentday, and by means of examples, indicate the advantages of going with scientific progress. How far should one go, is the ultimate question the reader has to decide for himself. This book will help.
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By ALVH on October 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book does an amazing job of both explains how doctors and scientist preform and the ethical point behind genetic choice. I like how the author never directly states his view but instead shows all ethically view points. Some of the book gets a little boring because of the medical terms and processes that are hard to understand if you aren't in that field. Though the author does a good job of 'dumbing' it down for the read to understand that bases of what they need to know. I like how the author gives examples of real life people who have gone through this process and examples of futuristic nonfiction books that have possible things that could eventually happen. Overall, this book is very helpful when researching the topic of genetic modifications and it's ethics.
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