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This paper argues for a Principle of Procreative Beneficence, that couples (or single reproducers) should select the child, of the possible children they could have, who is expected to have the best life, or at least as good a life as the others. If there are a number of different variants of a given gene, then we have most reason to select embryos which have those variants which are associated with the best lives, that is, those lives with the highest levels of well-being. It is possible that in the future some genes are identified which make it more likely that a person will engage in criminal behaviour. If that criminal behaviour makes that person's life go worse (as it plausibly would), and if those genes do not have other good effects in terms of promoting well-being, then we have a strong reason to encourage couples to test their embryos with the most favourable genetic profile. This paper was derived from a talk given as a part of the Decamp Seminar Series at the Princeton University Center for Human Values, October 4, 2000.


Journal article


Princet J Bioeth

Publication Date





79 - 97


Analytical Approach, Genetics and Reproduction, Beneficence, Choice Behavior, Crime, Criminal Psychology, Embryo Transfer, Ethical Analysis, Eugenics, Fertilization in Vitro, Genetic Enhancement, Genetic Testing, Genetics, Behavioral, Humans, Parents, Preimplantation Diagnosis, Reproduction