Genes: A Philosophical Inquiry

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'It's all in the genes'. Is this true, and if so, what is all in the genes? Genes: A Philosophical Inquiry is a crystal clear and highly informative guide to a debate none of us can afford to ignore.
Beginning with a much-needed overview of the relationship between science and technology, Gordon Graham lucidly explains and assesses the most important and controversial aspects of the genes debate: Darwinian theory and its critics, the idea of the 'selfish' gene, evolutionary psychology, memes, genetic screening and modification, including the risks of cloning and 'designer' babies.
He considers areas often left out of the genes debate, such as the environmental risks of genetic engineering and how we should think about genes in the wider context of debates on science, knowledge and religion. Gordon Graham asks whether genetic engineering might be introducing God back into the debate and whether the risks of a brave new genetic world outweigh the potential benefits.
Essential reading for anyone interested in science, technology, and philosophy, Genes: A Philosophical Inquiry is ideal for those wanting to find out more about the ethical implications of genetics and the future of biotechnology.

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Thomas C May, Ph.D.(Medical College of Wisconsin Health Policy Institute)
Description: This book is an examination of the philosophical issues raised by genes.
Purpose: The purpose is to provide a detached examination of issues concerning the role of genes. This is a worthy project, and the author meets this purpose.
Audience: The book is written for a lay (nonspecialist) audience, and should be accessible to educated readers. The author is a very credible authority on the subject matter.
Features: The book is divided into four chapters. The first two chapters focus on more general philosophical issues concerning science, technology, and genetics. Chapter one examines scientific explanation, pure and applied science, and the importance of science for society's self-image. Chapter two examines genetic explanations of human nature. This chapter examines the debate between evolution and creationism, sociobiology, and controversies surrounding the genetic basis of selfishness, altruism, and homosexuality. The second two chapters are comparatively more issue-oriented. Chapter three examines philosophical issues raised by genetic engineering, including genetic screening and related issues of whether people have a right to know genetic information. Related to these issues, chapter three also examines the status of genetic research, both on animals and humans. Chapter four is titled "Playing God," and focuses on issues related to attempts to manipulate genes. These include cloning, stem cell research, and reproductive technologies. The chapter ends with an examination of the possibility of "designer babies," and the relationship of this phenomenon to eugenics, procreative responsibility, the ethics of abortion, and finally what it means to "Play God."
Assessment: This book provides a valuable introduction to the deep philosophical issues surrounding genetics. The final two chapters examining specific issues raised by genetic screening, reproductive technology, and attempts to manipulate genes are particularly valuable for readers wishing to develop their knowledge about these visible and controversial issues.
David Galton
... an excellent, readable and lively "take" from the viewpoint of a moral philosopher ... I think Graham's book will greatly help to clarify the minds of many people who are confused by the media's approach, especially television, that often presents a kaleidoscope of different opinions.
Stephen Clark
Clear and level-headed . . . he has a lot of interesting and provocative things to say about both genetic science and genetic engineering. In particular, he has provided as clear and compelling an account of what is meant by "playing God", and what is wrong with playing God, as I have seen.
Arlene Judith Klotzko
A provocative and always interesting addition to the literature on genetics.

3 Stars from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415252584
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 10/28/2002
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Age range: 18 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.12 (w) x 7.81 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Gordon Graham is Regius Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen and Director of the Aberdeen Centre for Philosophy, Technology and Science. He is also the author of Philosophy of the Arts (Routledge 1997) and The Shape of the Past (Oxford University Press 1997)

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Table of Contents

Preface 1. Science and the Self-image of society Icon and understanding - the fractured image: Einstein vs Frankenstein - science - technology - anti-science - explaining things - engineering things - 'pure' and 'applied'
2. Genetic Explanation Evolution and creationism - natural selection and 'the selfish gene' - survival of the fittest - altruism, homosexuality and sterility - irreducible complexity and the biochemical - sociobiology and evolutionary psychology - memetics
3. Genetic Engineering Genetic screening - genetic information - genetic modification - environmentalism - the precautionary principle - genetic research - the 'slippery slope' and the 'sanctity of life'
4. Playing God Secular versions of the sacred - genetic trespassing -rights and equality - human cloning - reproductive technologies - designer babies - procreative responsibility and the ethics of abortion - 'playing God' without God

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