- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press; 1 edition (September 30, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780674036383
- ISBN-13: 978-0674036383
- ASIN: 0674036387
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.5 x 7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 29 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #306,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Case against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering 1st Edition
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“In the future, genetic manipulation of embryos is expected to have the potential to go beyond the treatment of diseases to improvements: children who are taller, more athletic, and have higher IQs...In The Case against Perfection, Michael Sandel argues that the unease many people feel about such manipulations have a basis in reason...This beautifully crafted little book...quickly and clearly lays out the key issues at stake.”―Gregory M. Lamb, Christian Science Monitor
“In this short and provocative treatise, Sandel, who is professor of government at Harvard and a member of the President's Council on Bioethics, takes on the question of why certain kinds of newly available genetic technologies make us uneasy...[his] book reminds us that the proper starting point for bioethics is not, "what should we do?" but rather, "what kind of society do we want?" And "what kind of people are we?"”―Faith McLellan, The Scientist
“The Case against Perfection by Michael Sandel is a brief, concise, and dazzling argument by one of America's foremost moral and political thinkers that brings you up to speed on the core ethical issues informing current debates about genetic engineering and stem cell research.”―Gabriel Gbadamosi, BBC Radio
“We live in a world, says Michael Sandel, where "science moves faster than moral understanding." But thanks to Sandel, moral understanding is catching up. Cloning, stem cell research, performance-enhancing drugs, pills that make you stronger or taller: if some scientific development bothers you, but you can't explain why, Michael Sandel will help you to figure out why you're troubled. And then he'll tell you whether you should be.”―Michael Kinsley
“Sandel explores a paramount question of our era: how to extend the power and promise of biomedical science to overcome debility without compromising our humanity. His arguments are acute and penetrating, melding sound logic with compassion. We emerge from this book feeling edified and inspired.”―Jerome Groopman, Harvard Medical School, author of How Doctors Think
“Nobody's perfect, and Mr. Sandel's book makes an instructive and engaging case that that nobody should be.”―Yuval Levin, New York Sun
“[A] graceful and intelligent new book.”―Carl Elliott, New England Journal of Medicine
“In a highly readable, wise and little book titled The Case against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering, Michael Sandel argues that parents' quest to create the ideal child reflects a drive for mastery and domination over life.”―Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun
“Given the vast gulf between progressive and conservative thinking, the time is ripe for a philosopher to take on the issues of biotechnology. And in The Case against Perfection Harvard's Michael Sandel does just that, attempting to develop a new position on biotechnology, one that, like Sandel himself, is not easily identified as either left or right. A former member of the President's Council on Bioethics, Sandel is uniquely well suited for this task, and to challenge the left to get its bearings on the brave new biology...Sandel poses an important challenge to contemporary progressives who have failed to grasp the importance of the emerging biopolitics.”―Jonathan Moreno, Democracy
“An illuminating ethical analysis of stem-cell research concludes this stellar work of public philosophy.”―Ray Olson, Booklist
About the Author
Michael J. Sandel is Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of Government at Harvard University.
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The gift argument is repeated throughout, but not supported very well. Sandel also discusses genetic modifications as arms races, but misses the fact that the "improvement" of human characteristics need not entail an arms race or a zero sum game. There are traits that have a value that is non-competitive. If research has found that people with a happiness score of 8-9 on a scale of 1-10 succeed most in life, it is correct to note that success in many fields is competitive. Yet, the feeling of happiness and enjoyment of life is not a zero sum game. Every human can enjoy this at the same time. If genetic engineering made us all 8-9 on the happiness scale, we would all benefit individually in our quality of life, though we would only be keeping pace with regards to competitive advantage. Again, Sandel misses this nuance and his discussions suffer from it.
The part of the book I felt was worth reading was the section regarding hyper-parenting. This was a point neglected in other books I have read on the subject, such as Agar's and Glover's. Nevertheless, the other books are far superior discussions of the subject with more exhaustive and nuanced discussions of genetic engineering.
I would advise against reading only this book when reading on this subject. This book should be read to offer another perspective after reading a more well rounded discussion like Glover's. As with any of the books I mention in this review, you should understand views on the role of genetics in development before reading the books. Don't expect the books to teach those details, though Agar's does contain good discussions regarding the fallacy of genetic determinism.