HUMAN GENETIC ENGINEERING AND THE PERSONHOOD PARADOX: RE-VISITING THE ETHICAL QUESTIONS FROM THE AFRICAN PERSPECTIVE

AUTHOR: OMALE, SIMEON ACHONU

DEPARTMENT: PHILOSOPHY

AFFILIATION: NNAMDI AZIKIWE UNIVERSITY, AWKA

The breakthroughs and achievements in biomedical technology and more especially the completion of the Human Genome Project in the year 2000, envisions some dramatic changes in the human society. These breakthroughs have in turn, accelerated the fast growing ‘myth’ that human life is primarily controlled by genes or some combination of human genetic make-up, thus raising controversies on all fronts. Central to this controversy is the possibility that contemporary biotechnology can alter human nature and thereby move the human society into a ‘posthuman’ era. The public attitude to this controversy or debate is often shaped by some consideration of the ethical, social, religious and philosophical issues as well as the risks that are involved in this biotechnological development. This thesis seeks to contribute to this global debate by undertaking a Philosophical analysis and hermeneutics of the process and procedures of the human genetic engineering noting its benefits as well as the inherent dangers from an African perspective. It seeks to argue that if this form of science is left without guide, it would make the human existence vulnerable to meaninglessness. The philosophical question, ‘who am I’, we must admit, has remained for centuries, the quintessential question, however, this technology of enhancement via genetic engineering which seeks to turn the human being into an automation of one degree or another will rob us of a workable answer to this question. It raises therefore several unavoidable questions on human right, intentionality or conscious phenomenal experience and the possibility of exercise of free will. Apart from this, it most directly creates a prospect of a new kind of eugenics, with all the moral implications culminating in its ability to change human nature thus altering the genetic patrimony of humanity. Core to this research therefore is the argument that since human nature is so fundamental to our notion of justice, morality and good life, any alteration by way of technological development would require a re-definition of these concepts. In conclusion, it is argued that in spite of the obvious benefits that may accrue and are accruing to human life as a result of this development; the possibility of enhancement through genetic science creates a philosophical problem of ‘personhood’ and personal identity, ‘determinism’, and ‘human freedom.

TO VIEW THE FULL CONTENT OF THIS DOCUMENT, PLEASE VISIT THE UNIZIK LIBRARY WEBSITE USING THIS LINK, http://naulibrary.org/dglibrary/admin/book_directory/Thesis/10369.pdf

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