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January 5, 1976

Genetic Responsibility: On Choosing Our Children's Genes

Author Affiliations

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Baltimore

JAMA. 1976;235(1):95. doi:10.1001/jama.1976.03260270059040

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This book is a symposium with diverse, often contradictory components, excellent ingredients of scholarship, but not scholarship itself. An adequate treatment of so sensitive a topic calls for more than precipitate annealing of expert opinions from mutually foreign disciplines. The détente is promising, but useful scholarship on the ethical, legal or political aspects must come ultimately from profound analysis at the appropriate interface. Cooke alone among the participants recognizes the cardinal importance of academic coherence and the need to develop principles rather than instant remedies or noble (but often parochial) sentiments. Jasper warns against precipitate policymaking and I side with Shinn and against Clarke (quoted by Ladimer) that enquiry should long anticipate crises, not respond to them.

The papers in this symposium are mostly of good quality. Hsia's paper embodying extensive practical wisdom, displays much compassion; Hardin, whose criteria are economic, none. Bender, defending briefly "The Right to Choose or