Hello, Socrates Cafe-goers.
Many of you are probably starting to wonder when our next Meetup will be. I can't say until I've reserved the meeting room at Mama Jean's. To do that, I have to speak to Diana, but every time I've called or been in the store the last couple of weeks, she hasn't been there. I'm going to try again Monday.
I'm hoping to schedule the Meetup for next Saturday (10/9) morning at the usual time (10:00-11:30). If the room isn't available then, I'm going to inquire about the same time on 10/23. (I have other plans for 10/16.)
The topic we decided on at the end of our last discussion is the ethics of human genetic engineering. The philosophical literature on the topic divides human genetic engineering into two types: gene therapy, which aims to fix genes that give rise to diseases, and genetic enhancement, which seeks to improve upon genes that aren't thought of as "defective" (such as normal genes that will preclude a child from ever being an Einstein, a Michael Jordan, or a Miss America). As you might imagine, gene therapy is rather uncontroversial, while genetic enhancement is viewed with grave concern, the specter of the human race's disastrous experience with eugenics often being invoked. And as Gregg pointed out last time, genetic "enhancement" could extend in theory to the implantation of genes that are not part of the natural human genetic endowment, such as genes for amphibiousness or echolocation (? la bats). Where do we draw the moral lines?
Here's a short article from TIME Magazine that provides a nice overview of this controversy over "designer babies": http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,989987,00.html
I'll send out an announcement as soon as I'm able to reserve the meeting room.
Yours in Socrates,