Cover image for Wondergenes : genetic enhancement and the future of society
Wondergenes : genetic enhancement and the future of society
Mehlman, Maxwell J.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Bloomington : Indiana University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
226 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
An announcement at the White House -- Scientific foundations -- Four revolutions -- The fifth revolution -- Safety and effectiveness -- Autonomy -- Authenticity -- Access -- Inequality and unfairness -- Hubris -- Solutions -- Better solutions -- Spotting enhancement.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
QH438.7 .M44 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Wondergenes not only imagines a future world in which genetic enhancement is the norm, but asserts that this future has already begun. Genetically engineered substances are already in use by athletes, in vitro fertilization already provides the primitive means by which parents can "select" an embryo, and the ability to create new forms of genetically engineered human beings is not far off. What happens when gene therapy becomes gene enhancement? Who will benefit and who might be left behind? What are the costs to our values and beliefs, and to the future of our society? To answer these questions, Maxwell J. Mehlman provides an overview of the scientific advances that have led to the present state of genetic enhancement and explains how these advances will be used in the future to redefine what we think of as a normal human being. He explores the ethical dilemmas already facing researchers and medical practitioners, and the dilemmas we will all be expected to face. In his forecast of the dangers inherent in this technology, he is particularly concerned with the emergence of a "genobility" made up of those able to afford increasingly expensive enhancement.

Wondergenes is a serious, accessible introduction to the social and personal implications of genetic engineering. Mehlman weighs the social and economic costs of the many proposals to regulate or limit genetic engineering and provides six concrete policy recommendations--from professional licensing to a ban on germ-line enhancement--that propose to make the future of genetic enhancement more equitable and safe.

Author Notes

Maxwell J. Mehlman is Authur E. Petersilge Professor of Law and Director of the Law-Medicine Center, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, and Professor of Biomedical Ethics at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Mehlman (law and biomedical ethics, Case Western Univ.) has written a reader-friendly book that outlines the future directions that human genetic manipulation could take. Reading almost as if it were science fiction, this book points out some of the consequences that derive from knowledge of the human genome. The completion of the Human Genome Project marked a revolution in the history of science. Genetic technologists have been using this emerging data to develop the fields of forensic genetics, gene therapy, DNA testing for specific characteristics, and behavioral genetics, which seeks in part to identify sociably undesirable genes. The genomic revolution has resulted in a drive toward genetic intervention to effect genetic "enhancement." People desire to use the DNA script to become more handsome, more muscular, more intelligent, and to acquire other desirable traits. Thus the question of what will be considered normal arises, as does the question of whether the normal will then become less than average. In this riveting read, Mehlman reviews the potentials of genetic manipulation and the positive and negative aspects of this new science. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers; undergraduates, including two-year college students; professionals and practitioners. R. A. Hoots Woodland Community College

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. 1
1 An Announcement at the White Housep. 5
2 Scientific Foundationsp. 11
3 Four Revolutionsp. 18
4 The Fifth Revolutionp. 52
5 Safety and Effectivenessp. 66
6 Autonomyp. 83
7 Authenticityp. 95
8 Accessp. 101
9 Inequality and Unfairnessp. 108
10 Hubrisp. 121
11 Solutionsp. 126
12 Better Solutionsp. 155
13 Spotting Enhancementp. 192
14 Conclusionp. 197
Notesp. 201
Indexp. 217