So genetic normed theories have a moral property: fatalism. This is not meant loosely. Genetic normed theories imply that individuals have a genetic fate, over which they have little control. If I have such a "genetic" disorder, I can do little about it, save getting used to the idea of my essential imperfection and early decline. In itself this may be wise; but not on its own. We need, in any chronic illness or disability, to come to terms with it and remake our lives so that they become (or remain) worthwhile. This involves living, not as externally defined subjects, but as reflexively and morally dignified selves. Genetic positive theories are useful in gaining philosophical self-knowledge: but genetic normed theories are counsels of despair. In those cases, and only those cases, where a genetic reduction is possible, we may make use of the information—so long as it does not make us. In fine, contrary to usual reductionist expectation, we cannot reduce moral normed theories to genetic positive theories; we should seek to combine them.
In concluding, let us return to the quality of life judgement that can be made in prenatal screening (choosing for a potential (?) other) or in adult screening (choosing for oneself). In the adult case, the lesson is not to assume that in your genes lies your fate. Your future life has some features which are genetically given: but the quality of your life still remains under your control to the extent that you can choose your reduction theory, your Q-list, and choose your P-list, that is, which things you take to be important about yourself. Morally, if your context is given, how you act in that context is what matters. For the prenatal situation, we have seen how to block the collapse of options into necessities, by showing how the link between gene and the normative content of quality of life data can be cut. That link is contingent on the adoption of a static, normed, genetic reduction theory, which we have shown to be only one way of considering the moral and human dimensions of the choice.5
Was this article helpful?