The CRISPR Dilemma: A Philosophical Analysis of Michael Sandel's Argument Against Genetic Engineering



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CRISPR is an acronym for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats” which is essentially the basis that allows us to edit human genomes. The most common analogy explaining how it works is finding, copying, and pasting a piece of text into a word document. No doubt, CRISPR technology has the potential to launch the world into a new age of medicine in which we can cure diseases that we previously considered “incurable” such as HIV, sickle cell anemia, and even cancer. However, many still find genetic engineering such as CRISPR morally dubious. The most prevalent argument seems to be one that Michael Sandel, a philosopher, outlines in his 2007 book, “The Case Against Perfection.” He claims that genetic engineering will make us lose touch with our humanity because we lose appreciation of life as a gift. The purpose of my research is to determine if Sandel's argument against genetic engineering is philosophically sound. To do this, I analyzed the premises outlined in his book and closely examined his argument regarding a concept that he calls “hyper-agency.” In conducting this research, I hope to contribute a new perspective to the bioethical debate of whether CRISPR and genetic engineering are morally right or wrong.