Germline genome editing is a new kind of technology that can produce heritable changes in members of many kinds of species. The speed, flexibility, and kind of heritability made possible by genome editing make it especially important to consider with care its implications for human goods and virtues, as well as whether it raises challenges for neo-Aristotelian ethical naturalism. In part I, I offer a brief overview of developments in genome editing. In part II, I briefly sketch the main contours of neo-Aristotelian ethical naturalism and discuss scientifically-based problems that arise for it, situating germline genome editing among those problems. In part III, I raise questions for Aristotelian conceptualizations of goods and virtues in light of germline genome editing using the framework developed in Nussbaum (1988).
Nancy E. Snow is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Institute for the Study of Human Flourishing at the University of Oklahoma.