Designing humans: A human rights approach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Advances in genomic technologies such as CRISPR‐Cas9, mitochondrial replacement techniques, and in vitro gametogenesis may soon give us more precise and efficient tools to have children with certain traits such as beauty, intelligence, and athleticism. In this paper, I propose a new approach to the ethics of reproductive genetic engineering, a human rights approach. This approach relies on two claims that have certain, independent plausibility: (a) human beings have equal moral status, and (b) human beings have human rights to the fundamental conditions for pursuing a good life. I first argue that the human rights approach gives us a lower bound of when reproductive genetic engineering would be permissible. I then compare this approach with other approaches such as the libertarian, perfectionist, and life worth living approaches. Against these approaches, I argue that the human rights approach offers a novel, and more plausible, way of assessing the ethics of reproductive genetic engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)98-104
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • Designer babies
  • Gene editing
  • Gene therapy
  • Genetic enhancement
  • Reproductive genetic engineering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Philosophy
  • Health Policy


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