Navigating the Ethics of Genome Editing and Heritability

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Olga C. Pandos


This article explores the role of ethics in contributing to a deliberative discussion on the necessary principles that ought to shape future governance of an emerging technology – Heritable Human Genome Editing (‘HHGE’). An ethical evaluation will be undertaken to identify some of the considerations pertaining to its intergenerational impact. This will be explored through the lens of genetic exceptionalism, human dignity and welfare as guiding ethical principles. The identification of and compliance with key ethical principles reflects a deontological approach. In practice, these principles are applied to achieve an outcome that maximises the welfare of future offspring. While this underlying rationale reflects a utilitarian approach, the practical enforcement of these ethical theories raises questions pertaining to their potential permeability. It is recognised these theories are rightly independent schools of thought. However, in practice, they can be permeable. Ethics, as applied in practice, does not necessarily require a “one theory fits all” approach to an ethical evaluation of this technology. While an outcome which maximises the welfare of future offspring is paramount, the means to achieve this are also important. These principles should inform the basis of an ethical evaluation in determining permissible uses of HHGE. Specifically, to prevent, treat or correct genetic disease.

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PANDOS, Olga C.. Navigating the Ethics of Genome Editing and Heritability. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 12, n. 5, may 2024. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 19 june 2024. doi:
Research Articles


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