Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Philosophy

Content Description

1 online resource (iv, 311 pages) : PDF file, color illustrations

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Bonnie Steinbock

Committee Members

Rachel Cohon, Ron McClamrock


bioethics, genethics, Genetics, moral, Reproductive ethics, reprogenetics, Reproduction, Genetic engineering, Bioethics

Subject Categories

Genetics | Philosophy


This dissertation examines the ethical implications of recent genetic innovations, particularly preimplantation genetic diagnosis, for the obligations and duties of parents to future children. I critique common but uncompelling objections to the use of genetic information, diagnosis, and technology to influence the characteristics of future offspring, and conclude that genetic selection and enhancement are not different in kind or degree from other means of selection, direction, and enhancement that parents engage in to shape the lives of their children. Procreation is morally risky -- it risks imposing substantial burdens on persons who would not otherwise have to bear those burdens, but for decisions made (or not made) by their creators. Proactive procreation that takes advantage of available technologies and information is always permissible. There is nothing inherently better or morally superior about leaving procreation to chance, or not choosing when choices are available. I propose a Parental Harm Principle, which would obligate parents to avoid conditions that will cause their future children to experience harm and suffering, and to create children who could flourish, and lead healthy lives unrestricted by avoidable pain, hardship, and disability.