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The ethics of "gifted" genes: the road to Gattaca?

By Julian Savulescu

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Recent research out of the UK has identified a genetic “general academic achievement factor”. Using identical twin studies, they found achievement across a wide range of academic subjects was influenced by many of the same genes:

This shared genetic influence is, to a large extent, independent of intelligence […] This means that it’s largely down to genetic reasons that children who tend to do well in one subject also tend to do well in others even when different levels of intelligence is controlled.

They also found that:

genes explain a larger proportion of the differences between children across different subjects (54-65%) than shared environmental factors, such as home and school environment combined (14-21%).

The dangers of toying with gifted genes

Academic giftedness (I use this in a broad term to cover greater general academic aptitude), it would appear, is largely genetic. This is vitally important research. However, if our knowledge develops further and contributory genes are identified, this line of research could have troubling ethical implications. Here are five ways in which the results could be misapplied.

Firstly, it could be used for eugenic...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.