Superman-e1453737365265-940x470 thumbnail

The Ethics and Moral Dilemma of Superheroes

Essentially, the question for every superhero is whether the ends justify the means.

 

Both Batman and Superman refuse to kill their enemies, thus allowing them to cause even more havoc in the future. Batman pushes away those who care about him the most, Superman hides his true identity by lying to his friends and loved ones. Superheroes face a slew of ethical dilemmas, not the least of which is the fact that most of them are vigilantes—breaking the law even while saving the day.

batman killer06

We often view comic book stories as simple cases of hero vs. villain, but such a perspective takes for granted the idea that superheroes are the good guys. In fact, moral virtue is a complicated concept, and what doing the right thing means depends on your perspective. There are nonetheless two main schools of thought on what makes an action right or wrong:  deontology, which categorizes actions as good or bad in themselves, and consequentialism, which classifies each action based on its results. Essentially, the question for every superhero is whether the ends justify the means.

There was quite a bit of controversy around the amount of destruction caused by Superman in the film Man of Steel. Many felt such destruction could have been avoided, and it was also left unclear how many people perished as a result of his battle with Zodd, whose death also left people questioning Superman’s moral foundation. This issue will probably inform the plot of the upcoming film Batman v Superman where Batman will question Superman’s regard for human life.

Superman destruction

 

batman-v-superman-trailer-009

Take Oliver Queen on Arrow, for example. He starts out as brutal vigilante who kills his enemies without hesitation. His mission is to avenge his father by taking out the criminals who had plunged Starling City into lawlessness. After the death of his best friend, Oliver decides to rededicate himself to saving the city, but he believes that in order to do so, he must become a hero called the Arrow and give up killing.

LQ7pFln

On the show, this shift is presented as a positive decision, but is it really? He no longer murders people, but many of the criminals he puts away end up escaping and hurting more people. Is it more important for the Arrow to provide a positive example or for the villains to be stopped permanently?

Oliver himself realizes the shortcomings of his no-kill rule: when faced with a choice between allowing a villain to harm one of his loved ones and killing the culprit, Oliver invariably chooses to compromise his principles in the name of protecting his family and friends. This inconsistency reflects the tricky questions superheroes face as well was the difficulty of putting ethical principles into practice.

What do you think? Should superheroes strive to do the right thing or focus on protecting innocents no matter the cost? Or should they try to find a balance between the two?

designer-baby thumbnail

We Need to Discuss Designer Babies: Is this the next step in human evolution?

 

designer-baby


 

Designed by Science

Given the opportunity, would you choose the qualities of your unborn baby? Their gender? What if you knew your family had a history of a certain illness or cancer, what if you could choose a child that did not carry traits for that illness, and you could basically guarantee they would lead a long healthy life? That doesn’t sound too bad. However, what if that choice were given to only affluent or privileged families, leading to genetically perfect people who have another advantage over the poor or those without access to this technology? Lets dive into the possible future of genetic selectivity and perfection. It’s happening already.

54ca9797be313_-_designerbaby_500x375_1209-lg


In Vitro Fertilization

In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, helps women with fertility problems conceive a child. It mainly consists of an egg from a female and sperm from a male fertilizing outside of a human body in a lab setting. Once fertilization takes place, the embryo is then implanted back into the female’s uterus in order to grow into a baby.

IVF is a complex and expensive procedure; only about 5% of couples with infertility seek it out. However, since its introduction in the U.S. in 1981, IVF and other similar techniques have resulted in more than 200,000 babies.


The Modern Rich and Famous Pregnancy

John Legend and his wife Chrissy Teigen underwent In Vitro Fertilization to be able to have a child. Controversially, Teigen and Legend took this technology a step further and were able to determine the gender of the embryo, among other choices, and to select a female for their future child.

Preimplantation Genetic Screening made this possible. It is a process by which one or more cells from an in vitro fertilization embryo are removed, and tested for chromosomal normalcy, and a genetic diagnosis includes testing for a specific genetic condition.

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 5.03.45 PM


How A She Becomes a He

It has been known for many years that the gender of a pregnancy is determined by the sex chromosome carried by the sperm. Sperm bearing an “X” chromosome, when united with the “X” from the female (females only produce “X”) will result in an “XX” pregnancy that produces a female. If a sperm bearing a “Y” chromosome (men have both “X” and “Y” bearing sperm) unites with the “X” chromosome from the female, an “XY” pregnancy will result that gives rise to a male offspring. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes for a total of 46.


Sticker Shock

It may seem completely fine, or even exciting to think of the options available to us in a controlled environment where choices aren’t left up to fate. Especially when illnesses and genetic diseases can put financial strain and heartache on someone’s life from the start. However, those choices are not an option for those who do not have the funds for the very costly IVF. The average cost of IVF is anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000, not including medication, and that only provides one round. Typical successful cases require three rounds. Plenty of women undergoing IVF are simply hoping for a healthy pregnancy, not to determine the characteristics of their unborn child. For those who wish to choose a gender or diagnose other features, the costs are even more staggering. Therefore, this kind of genetic selection is something that many families cannot afford.


Dare to Dream

Taking this technology to a mainstream level, what if more and more people will be able to afford this procedure, say in 20, 30 years. What would a world be like where many of those who live among us are considered genetically “perfect”?

There is a film that has already explored this plausible world, Gattaca. This film was made in 1997, and it features exactly this scenario. The haves and the have nots are split between those who are genetically perfect, compared to regularly conceived humans. Perfect humans are given privileges, get better jobs, lead better lives. You can imagine the moral implications of a world like that. We may get to experience it first hand in a few decades.


Public Health Benefits

There are benefits of this future though. The less people who have genetic disorders, the less medical costs those people would incur. There may be whole economic shifts because of a large population of effortlessly healthy people. Public Health issues are also important to consider. Where is the line between the highly personal nature of individual genetic data, and the wide ranging benefits of that data as it pertains to public health?

While some people argue that the uniquely personal nature of genetic information requires an individual rights approach that limits public health use, others view genetic data as just another type of population data that can be collected, aggregated, and used along with other surveillance and environmental data to produce social utility. Still others focus on the significant power of genetic advancements to improve individual lives and, from a distributive justice perspective, emphasize public health’s responsibility to not only ensure access to genetic information throughout the population but more importantly to provide genetic services for the disadvantaged. Public health must address these and other competing ethical claims when developing public health genetics policies.

So where do you stand? Is this the future of human evolution or are we at the brink of greater divide between the have and the have nots?

designer-baby thumbnail

We Need to Discuss Designer Babies: Is this the next step in human evolution?

 

designer-baby


Designed by Science

Given the opportunity, would you choose the qualities of your unborn baby? Their gender? What if you knew your family had a history of a certain illness or cancer, what if you could choose a child that did not carry traits for that illness, and you could basically guarantee they would lead a long healthy life? That doesn’t sound too bad. However, what if that choice were given to only affluent or privileged families, leading to genetically perfect people who have another advantage over the poor or those without access to this technology? Lets dive into the possible future of genetic selectivity and perfection. It’s happening already.

54ca9797be313_-_designerbaby_500x375_1209-lg


In Vitro Fertilization

In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, helps women with fertility problems conceive a child. It mainly consists of an egg from a female and sperm from a male fertilizing outside of a human body in a lab setting. Once fertilization takes place, the embryo is then implanted back into the female’s uterus in order to grow into a baby.

IVF is a complex and expensive procedure; only about 5% of couples with infertility seek it out. However, since its introduction in the U.S. in 1981, IVF and other similar techniques have resulted in more than 200,000 babies.


The Modern Rich and Famous Pregnancy

John Legend and his wife Chrissy Teigen underwent In Vitro Fertilization to be able to have a child. Controversially, Teigen and Legend took this technology a step further and were able to determine the gender of the embryo, among other choices, and to select a female for their future child.

Preimplantation Genetic Screening made this possible. It is a process by which one or more cells from an in vitro fertilization embryo are removed, and tested for chromosomal normalcy, and a genetic diagnosis includes testing for a specific genetic condition.

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 5.03.45 PM


How A She Becomes a He

It has been known for many years that the gender of a pregnancy is determined by the sex chromosome carried by the sperm. Sperm bearing an “X” chromosome, when united with the “X” from the female (females only produce “X”) will result in an “XX” pregnancy that produces a female. If a sperm bearing a “Y” chromosome (men have both “X” and “Y” bearing sperm) unites with the “X” chromosome from the female, an “XY” pregnancy will result that gives rise to a male offspring. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes for a total of 46.


Sticker Shock

It may seem completely fine, or even exciting to think of the options available to us in a controlled environment where choices aren’t left up to fate. Especially when illnesses and genetic diseases can put financial strain and heartache on someone’s life from the start. However, those choices are not an option for those who do not have the funds for the very costly IVF. The average cost of IVF is anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000, not including medication, and that only provides one round. Typical successful cases require three rounds. Plenty of women undergoing IVF are simply hoping for a healthy pregnancy, not to determine the characteristics of their unborn child. For those who wish to choose a gender or diagnose other features, the costs are even more staggering. Therefore, this kind of genetic selection is something that many families cannot afford.


Dare to Dream

Taking this technology to a mainstream level, what if more and more people will be able to afford this procedure, say in 20, 30 years. What would a world be like where many of those who live among us are considered genetically “perfect”?

There is a film that has already explored this plausible world, Gattaca. This film was made in 1997, and it features exactly this scenario. The haves and the have nots are split between those who are genetically perfect, compared to regularly conceived humans. Perfect humans are given privileges, get better jobs, lead better lives. You can imagine the moral implications of a world like that. We may get to experience it first hand in a few decades.


Public Health Benefits

There are benefits of this future though. The less people who have genetic disorders, the less medical costs those people would incur. There may be whole economic shifts because of a large population of effortlessly healthy people. Public Health issues are also important to consider. Where is the line between the highly personal nature of individual genetic data, and the wide ranging benefits of that data as it pertains to public health?

While some people argue that the uniquely personal nature of genetic information requires an individual rights approach that limits public health use, others view genetic data as just another type of population data that can be collected, aggregated, and used along with other surveillance and environmental data to produce social utility. Still others focus on the significant power of genetic advancements to improve individual lives and, from a distributive justice perspective, emphasize public health’s responsibility to not only ensure access to genetic information throughout the population but more importantly to provide genetic services for the disadvantaged. Public health must address these and other competing ethical claims when developing public health genetics policies.

So where do you stand? Is this the future of human evolution or are we at the brink of greater divide between the have and the have nots?

designer-baby thumbnail

We Need to Discuss Designer Babies: Is this the next step in human evolution?

 

designer-baby


Designed by Science

Given the opportunity, would you choose the qualities of your unborn baby? Their gender? What if you knew your family had a history of a certain illness or cancer, what if you could choose a child that did not carry traits for that illness, and you could basically guarantee they would lead a long healthy life? That doesn’t sound too bad. However, what if that choice were given to only affluent or privileged families, leading to genetically perfect people who have another advantage over the poor or those without access to this technology? Lets dive into the possible future of genetic selectivity and perfection. It’s happening already.

54ca9797be313_-_designerbaby_500x375_1209-lg


In Vitro Fertilization

In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, helps women with fertility problems conceive a child. It mainly consists of an egg from a female and sperm from a male fertilizing outside of a human body in a lab setting. Once fertilization takes place, the embryo is then implanted back into the female’s uterus in order to grow into a baby.

IVF is a complex and expensive procedure; only about 5% of couples with infertility seek it out. However, since its introduction in the U.S. in 1981, IVF and other similar techniques have resulted in more than 200,000 babies.


The Modern Rich and Famous Pregnancy

John Legend and his wife Chrissy Teigen underwent In Vitro Fertilization to be able to have a child. Controversially, Teigen and Legend took this technology a step further and were able to determine the gender of the embryo, among other choices, and to select a female for their future child.

Preimplantation Genetic Screening made this possible. It is a process by which one or more cells from an in vitro fertilization embryo are removed, and tested for chromosomal normalcy, and a genetic diagnosis includes testing for a specific genetic condition.

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 5.03.45 PM


How A She Becomes a He

It has been known for many years that the gender of a pregnancy is determined by the sex chromosome carried by the sperm. Sperm bearing an “X” chromosome, when united with the “X” from the female (females only produce “X”) will result in an “XX” pregnancy that produces a female. If a sperm bearing a “Y” chromosome (men have both “X” and “Y” bearing sperm) unites with the “X” chromosome from the female, an “XY” pregnancy will result that gives rise to a male offspring. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes for a total of 46.


Sticker Shock

It may seem completely fine, or even exciting to think of the options available to us in a controlled environment where choices aren’t left up to fate. Especially when illnesses and genetic diseases can put financial strain and heartache on someone’s life from the start. However, those choices are not an option for those who do not have the funds for the very costly IVF. The average cost of IVF is anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000, not including medication, and that only provides one round. Typical successful cases require three rounds. Plenty of women undergoing IVF are simply hoping for a healthy pregnancy, not to determine the characteristics of their unborn child. For those who wish to choose a gender or diagnose other features, the costs are even more staggering. Therefore, this kind of genetic selection is something that many families cannot afford.


Dare to Dream

Taking this technology to a mainstream level, what if more and more people will be able to afford this procedure, say in 20, 30 years. What would a world be like where many of those who live among us are considered genetically “perfect”?

There is a film that has already explored this plausible world, Gattaca. This film was made in 1997, and it features exactly this scenario. The haves and the have nots are split between those who are genetically perfect, compared to regularly conceived humans. Perfect humans are given privileges, get better jobs, lead better lives. You can imagine the moral implications of a world like that. We may get to experience it first hand in a few decades.


Public Health Benefits

There are benefits of this future though. The less people who have genetic disorders, the less medical costs those people would incur. There may be whole economic shifts because of a large population of effortlessly healthy people. Public Health issues are also important to consider. Where is the line between the highly personal nature of individual genetic data, and the wide ranging benefits of that data as it pertains to public health?

While some people argue that the uniquely personal nature of genetic information requires an individual rights approach that limits public health use, others view genetic data as just another type of population data that can be collected, aggregated, and used along with other surveillance and environmental data to produce social utility. Still others focus on the significant power of genetic advancements to improve individual lives and, from a distributive justice perspective, emphasize public health’s responsibility to not only ensure access to genetic information throughout the population but more importantly to provide genetic services for the disadvantaged. Public health must address these and other competing ethical claims when developing public health genetics policies.

So where do you stand? Is this the future of human evolution or are we at the brink of greater divide between the have and the have nots?

Superman-e1453737365265-940x470 thumbnail

The Ethics and Moral Dilemma of Superheroes

Essentially, the question for every superhero is whether the ends justify the means.

 

Both Batman and Superman refuse to kill their enemies, thus allowing them to cause even more havoc in the future. Batman pushes away those who care about him the most, Superman hides his true identity by lying to his friends and loved ones. Superheroes face a slew of ethical dilemmas, not the least of which is the fact that most of them are vigilantes—breaking the law even while saving the day.

batman killer06

We often view comic book stories as simple cases of hero vs. villain, but such a perspective takes for granted the idea that superheroes are the good guys. In fact, moral virtue is a complicated concept, and what doing the right thing means depends on your perspective. There are nonetheless two main schools of thought on what makes an action right or wrong:  deontology, which categorizes actions as good or bad in themselves, and consequentialism, which classifies each action based on its results. Essentially, the question for every superhero is whether the ends justify the means.

There was quite a bit of controversy around the amount of destruction caused by Superman in the film Man of Steel. Many felt such destruction could have been avoided, and it was also left unclear how many people perished as a result of his battle with Zodd, whose death also left people questioning Superman’s moral foundation. This issue will probably inform the plot of the upcoming film Batman v Superman where Batman will question Superman’s regard for human life.

Superman destruction

 

batman-v-superman-trailer-009

Take Oliver Queen on Arrow, for example. He starts out as brutal vigilante who kills his enemies without hesitation. His mission is to avenge his father by taking out the criminals who had plunged Starling City into lawlessness. After the death of his best friend, Oliver decides to rededicate himself to saving the city, but he believes that in order to do so, he must become a hero called the Arrow and give up killing.

LQ7pFln

On the show, this shift is presented as a positive decision, but is it really? He no longer murders people, but many of the criminals he puts away end up escaping and hurting more people. Is it more important for the Arrow to provide a positive example or for the villains to be stopped permanently?

Oliver himself realizes the shortcomings of his no-kill rule: when faced with a choice between allowing a villain to harm one of his loved ones and killing the culprit, Oliver invariably chooses to compromise his principles in the name of protecting his family and friends. This inconsistency reflects the tricky questions superheroes face as well was the difficulty of putting ethical principles into practice.

What do you think? Should superheroes strive to do the right thing or focus on protecting innocents no matter the cost? Or should they try to find a balance between the two?

Superman-e1453737365265-940x470 thumbnail

The Ethics and Moral Dilemma of Superheroes

Essentially, the question for every superhero is whether the ends justify the means.

 

Both Batman and Superman refuse to kill their enemies, thus allowing them to cause even more havoc in the future. Batman pushes away those who care about him the most, Superman hides his true identity by lying to his friends and loved ones. Superheroes face a slew of ethical dilemmas, not the least of which is the fact that most of them are vigilantes—breaking the law even while saving the day.

batman killer06

We often view comic book stories as simple cases of hero vs. villain, but such a perspective takes for granted the idea that superheroes are the good guys. In fact, moral virtue is a complicated concept, and what doing the right thing means depends on your perspective. There are nonetheless two main schools of thought on what makes an action right or wrong:  deontology, which categorizes actions as good or bad in themselves, and consequentialism, which classifies each action based on its results. Essentially, the question for every superhero is whether the ends justify the means.

There was quite a bit of controversy around the amount of destruction caused by Superman in the film Man of Steel. Many felt such destruction could have been avoided, and it was also left unclear how many people perished as a result of his battle with Zodd, whose death also left people questioning Superman’s moral foundation. This issue will probably inform the plot of the upcoming film Batman v Superman where Batman will question Superman’s regard for human life.

Superman destruction

 

batman-v-superman-trailer-009

Take Oliver Queen on Arrow, for example. He starts out as brutal vigilante who kills his enemies without hesitation. His mission is to avenge his father by taking out the criminals who had plunged Starling City into lawlessness. After the death of his best friend, Oliver decides to rededicate himself to saving the city, but he believes that in order to do so, he must become a hero called the Arrow and give up killing.

LQ7pFln

On the show, this shift is presented as a positive decision, but is it really? He no longer murders people, but many of the criminals he puts away end up escaping and hurting more people. Is it more important for the Arrow to provide a positive example or for the villains to be stopped permanently?

Oliver himself realizes the shortcomings of his no-kill rule: when faced with a choice between allowing a villain to harm one of his loved ones and killing the culprit, Oliver invariably chooses to compromise his principles in the name of protecting his family and friends. This inconsistency reflects the tricky questions superheroes face as well was the difficulty of putting ethical principles into practice.

What do you think? Should superheroes strive to do the right thing or focus on protecting innocents no matter the cost? Or should they try to find a balance between the two?