Commentary: maintaining the somatic/germ-line distinction: some ethical drawbacks

J Med Philos. 1991 Dec;16(6):641-7. doi: 10.1093/jmp/16.6.641.


Determinations of the ethical acceptability of genetic therapy have relied on several distinctions in attempts to separate ethically acceptable genetic therapy from those possible therapies that could lead to genetic modifications of future human beings. One distinction that has been proposed is that genetic modifications of human somatic cells is ethically acceptable but that germ-line genetics modifications would be ethically objectionable. This paper examines several serious difficulties which call into question the ethical relevance of a somatic/germ-line distinction.

MeSH terms

  • Double Effect Principle
  • Ethical Analysis
  • Ethics
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Eugenics / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Eugenics / trends
  • Genetic Diseases, Inborn
  • Genetic Engineering / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Genetic Engineering / trends*
  • Genetic Therapy / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Genetic Therapy / trends*
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Intention
  • Legal Guardians
  • Morals
  • Philosophy, Medical*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Social Responsibility