Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Case Against Perfection (Excerpts, quiz, and discussion questions)

The Case Against Perfection by Michael Sandel


     Chapter 1: The Ethics of Enhancement
     1. What was attempting to conceive a deaf child compared to? (pg. 3)
     2. What does Julie receive a clone of? (pg. 4)
     3. What do breakthroughs in genetics promise will soon be treatable and preventable? (pg. 5)

     Chapter 3: Designer Children, Designing Parents
     4. In the words of the theologian William May, parenthood teaches _____________. (pg. 45)
     5. The deepest moral objection to enhancement lies in _____________________. (pg. 46)
     6. The drive to master genetics disfigures the parent-child relationship and deprives the parent
         of what? (pg. 46)
     7. Health is not the kind of good that can be _______. (pg. 48)

     Chapter 4: The Old Eugenics and the New
     8. Who coined the term eugenics and called for it to be "introduced into the national
         conscience, like a new religion"? (pg. 63)
     9. What was the "chief issue of birth control" according to the feminist Margaret Sanger?
         (pg. 65)
     10. Which state adopted the first law providing for the forced sterilization of certain groups of
           people? (pg. 65)


     1. If you could design your child to have every advantage, would you? Why or why not?
     2. Is it morally wrong to design a child to be deaf?
     3. Do you think being deaf could be considered a culture or a disability?
     4. How do you think genetically enhancing one's children influences the parent-child
     5. How should parents balance accepting love and transforming love?
     6. Do you think that the American eugenic movement would still exist if Hitler hadn't taken it to
         such a violent extreme? What differences do you think we would see in America if eugenics
         had continued with the momentum it had before the Nazis brought it into an unfavorable


  1. "If you could design your child to have every advantage, would you?" - If I could design EVERY child to have every advantage, I would, and should... though of course we need to spell out what "every advantage" entails exactly. But to give undue advantage to one's own children is morally arbitrary. I shouldn't. Wish I could be entirely confident that I WOULDN'T, but honestly it's hard to know that.

    2. I think so. And I don't think that impugns or denigrates the deaf culture. Would any deaf person really not have chosen to be gifted with hearing?

    3. Both, surely.

    4. Commodifies, subverts, and cheapens it...

    5. Not sure I understand what sort of "balance" is called for...

    6. Have you seen Star Trek: the Wrath of Khan?

  2. Alternative Quiz Questions:

    1. What was the difference in the reaction of the public between the parents offering a large sum in the ad compared to the parents who wanted a deaf child? (3)

    2. What was the reduced price for cat cloning and was is the money-back guarantee? (4)

    3. What is one of the issues people find with the commercial cloning of dogs and cats? (5)

    4. What is the predicament with our new-found genetic knowledge that threatens physical human nature? (5)

    5. What does the author say bio-engineering and genetic enhancement threaten to dislodge? (45)

    6. For what reason does the author say that attempts to treat or cure disease do not constitute a "Promethean assault on the given"? (47)

    7. What concept does the author say is open for argument and is no t only a biological question? (47)

    8. What does Savulescu claim that parents have a moral obligation to do for their children? (48)

    9. What was the mission of the Eugenic Records Office and what did Davenport hope to accomplish with it? (64)

    10. During what decade were eugenics courses offered at 350 of the nation's colleges and universities? (65)

  3. Alternate Quiz
    1. Medicine, like sports, is a practice with a purpose, a______________, that orients and constrains it.(47)

    2. Who says, "Health is not intrinsically valuable," only , " instrumentally valuable"? (47)

    3. (T/F) It is NOT a mistake to think of health in wholly instrumental terms, as a way of maximizing something else. (48)

    4. What was a movement of large ambition -- to improve the genetic make up of the human race? (63)

    5. Where did Davenport open up the Eugenics Records Office?(64)

    6. Which president wrote to Davenport and says, "Someday we will realize that the prime duty, the inescapable duty, of the good citizen of the right type, is to leave his or her blood behind them in the world." (64-65)

    7. How many states adopted forced sterilization laws?

  4. 1. If I could then yes, I would give my children every advantage I could so that they could be as successful as they could be in their own endeavors.

    2.I would probably view it as wrong since it would leave the child disadvantaged in our modern society and could possibly limit their access to a career they may desire, but then again if it is part of the parents culture I could see why they would desire it.

    3. Either depending on the situation, it could be considered a disability due to the potential for limiting the individuals access to fulfillment, but it could be a culture due to the fact that those that are deaf do have their own language and customs.
    4. It can "commodify" the child, making the child feel like an object to be owned and not an individual
    5. Both should be present within the child raising process

    6. Probably not, as sciences has progressed it has become apparent that the advantage of a diverse genome far out was the advantages of a secularized genetic patteren.