Project can live up to its promises. The HGP may allow us to more successfully
pursue an approach to the practice of medicine and the delivery of health
care that is more oriented toward prevention and early treatment.
50 If it is to
fulfill those promises, however, society will have to give greater attention to
anticipating concerns and issues; reveal the diverse stakeholders in the debate;
more clearly articulate the moral values to which it is committed (and provide
a clearer picture of how genetic technology fits into the structure of a good
society); and come clean on the difficult policy decisions it faces.
Even technological Cassandras must admit that the progress made on the
Project to this point is impressive. And as the fruits of the HGP are applied to
practical human needs — as is beginning to happen now — the public's support
for the Project will grow. But wishing for something good to happen is not the
same as being assured that the good will result. For that to happen, society
needs to take much more seriously the challenge and the risks of biotechnology.
3. Mitcham notes that 'technology is . . . the making and using of artifacts in the most
general sense,' Mitcham, 1980, 282. For many thinkers, the issues of major interest
surrounding discussions of technology focus on its perceived dependence on or
autonomy from human self-understanding and volition (Ellul, Marcuse, Heidegger);
issues surrounding the general valuation of technology or identifiable technologies;
its 'goodness' or 'badness' ( Rousseau, Tielhard de Chardin, Mumford); and the
degree to which human beings either consciously or unconsciously appropriate
technology (Ortega y Gasset), see Mitcham, 1980, 286-287. 4. A number of philosophers and theologians appear to echo this general tendency
linking technological discovery and development to fundamental human ontology.
For example, Dessauer posits a 'technological mysticism' in which such activity is
viewed as an extension of divine creation and incarnation. Mounier suggests that
such a creative impulse reflects humanity's 'dermurgic function,' see Mitcham, 1980, 290-293. The Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin emphasizes the movement of the
human spirit toward a moment of ultimate ontological transformation facilitated
by and constituting a creative technological mastery of the world, Barbour, 1993,
7, 269. The Uruguayan Jesuit philosopher and liberation theologian Juan Luis
Segundo argues that human creative activity ought to seek to establish humanity's
'dominion over nature' as one manifestation of its drive for human solidarity and
supernatural transformation, Segundo, 1976, 150. Other thinkers focus on social
effects as a means of justifying an optimistic reading of technology ( Buckminster
Fuller, Herman Kahn, and Alvin Toffler). 8. This argument is developed from various theological perspectives by George
Bernanos, David Brinkman, and Emil Brunner. See also Ramsey, 1970, and
contributions in Mitcham and
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Changing Nature's Course:The Ethical Challenge of Biotechnology.
Contributors: Gerhold K. Becker - Editor, James P. Buchanan - Editor.
Publisher: Hong Kong University Press.
Place of publication: Hong Kong.
Publication year: 1996.
Page number: 100.
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