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Ethical Issues in Gattaca

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Alexa Wasserman

on 7 December 2015

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Transcript of Ethical Issues in Gattaca

Ethical Issues in Gattaca
Genetic Engineering
Ethical Issue #2
Inequality/Discrimination
Summary
The movie is based in the future , where genetic engineering of humans is common and DNA plays the primary role in determining social class, Vincent is conceived and born without the aid of this technology. Suffering from the nearly eradicated physical dysfunctions of myopia and a congenital heart defect, as well as being given a life expectancy of 30.2 years, Vincent faces extreme genetic discrimination and prejudice. The only way he can achieve his life-long dream of becoming an astronaut is to break the law and impersonate a "valid", a person with appropriate genetic advantage.
Main Ethical Issue
The central ethical issue throughout the movie is based on how an individual should be judged. In the movie people are judged based on their genetic code, not the ambition and personality chosen by the indiviual. Due to the unethical issue of genetically engineering humans there is inequality/discrimination and lying.
Scene #1
After the couple's first "natural" birth resulted in a less-than-perfect child, the Freeman's choose to genetically engineer their next child to be free of imperfections.
Ethical Issue #1
Kant: Based on Kantian ethics this would be unethical, because he states that motivation is what matters not the consequences. The parents were soley thinking of the consequences of having a perfect child and their own happiness. Also becuase the baby's individual rights were violated; it had no choice to what happened to it's body.
Utilitarianism: Based on Utilitarianism, which is the greatest good for the greatest number, this would be unethical. While doing this might cause happiness to the recipient, it causes pain to the people who did not have the option and are "invalid" who are far greater in number.
Religious Ethics: Based on religious ethics this would be unethical, becasue you are altering the will of God.
Virtue Ethics: Based on Aristotelian ethics this would be unethical, because Aristotle says that happiness must be based on human nature and begin from personal experience. Someone who is not genetically modivied could acheive happiness, by having ambition and in Vincent's case overcoming heart disease (through excersise). However, all personal experience is disregarded when a human is born "perfect".
Scene #2
Kant: Based on Kantian ethics this wold be unethical, because of the categorical imperative. If you turn one person down based on their genetic code, then you would have to turn everyone down who is not "perfect", which in today's society is very rare. Therefore businesses would not continue, becasue there is no one to work.
Utilitarianism: Utilitarianism would say this is unethical, becasue it caused maximum pain to a great number of people, and happiness to a select few.
Religious Ethics: Based on the Ten Commandemnts this would be unethical, becasue it states "Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor". By turning someone down because of something as unconrtrollable as a heart condition, you are disrespecting them and accusing them of not being good enough.

Ethical Issue #3
Lying
Scene #3
Kant: Kant would say that Vincent's lying would be unethical based on the Categorical Imperative. If you lie you would have to be okay with everyone lying. Also becuase Vincent was only considering the consequences what he was doing, therefore his motive was selfish.
Utilitarianism: Based on Utilitarianism Vincent's lying would be ethical. By lying he caused no one pain, and gave himself happiness. Therefore, the greatest good happened to the greatest number (1).
Religious Ethics: It is immoral in judeo-christian religion to lie, so therefore Vincent's actions would be unethical.
Resolution
At the end of the movie none of the ethical issues were resolved. Although at the end Vincent was "caught" he was able to continue on his mission to space, so he never had to deal with bad consequences to lying. While Vincent is in space genetic engineering, and discrimination is still prevelant as the movie ends.
In this scene Vincent explains how his only job option is as a garbage man, becasue of his imperfect DNA. While other "valid" men and women work at his dream job.
In this scene Vincent and Jerome discuss how they could get caught in their elaborate lie.
Gattaca - 1997
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