During the last five years genetics and reproductive medicine have merged to form Reprogenetics and come to represent revolutionary possibilities for studying grave diseases and developing new therapies. Specific scenarios are developed that may result in the technical possibility to change the genetic constitution of humans and their descendants. In fact, in a limited way, some technologies may already do this. The overwhelming possibilities presented by such developments have been met with concern and reignited debate on question if men may be able to design and change the genetic structure of other men and if men may be able to create new human beings. The values at stake in these issues are often felt as deeply human and there is a widespread conviction that several of the new technical possibilities should be banned or at least placed under a moratorium no matter how promising they may be. The situation of a moratorium or ban might create a false impression of ethical clarity and yet, the content and strength of ethical arguments applied has not been analysed or made explicit. When not accompanied by a consistent study of conditions under which it may be lifted, a moratorium would no longer be a sign of ethical strength but of indecisiveness and a lack of ethical decision making. Still, in circles of private and academic research, science and technology continue to develop. This will result in gene therapy, cloning and stem cell research not guided by ethical and social reflection, but as an arbitrary result of unknown market forces and the private ambition of researchers and research institutes. The project will make a comparative analysis of the ethical aspects of hot issues in gene therapy and cloning, study the ambiguities and inconsistencies of current law and theory, try to strengthen them and, when needed, distinguish contexts that share names, but may have completely different ethical implications.
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Funding SchemeSTREP - Specific Targeted Research Project