In S. Matthew Liao’s article “Selecting Children: The Ethics of Reproductive Genetic Engineering”, he listed different arguments for or against genetic selection, and various factors which are considered important when discussing this issue. In Aldous Huxley’s 1932 published novel “Brave new world”, we can see that certain genetic selection/modification is applied to the embryo, along with other techniques such as clone(Bokanovsky effect) and maturity acceleration(Podsnap effect). It will be interesting to see how different people listed in Liao’s article will respond to the reproduction process in Huxley’s novel, and how the factors are considered.
Perfectionist view seems favor “alpha” in the novel a lot. Snce people has the prima facie obligation to bring the one that will have the best chance to have the best life according to the perfectionist view, there’s no doubt that alpha, as the one have a predestined promising future, should be the one brought to life. Since perfectionist view is for genetic selection instead of modification, it sounds somewhat awkward that one have the obligation to choose alpha instead of beta if they need to make a decision between this two.
The libertarian view is interesting to look at while applied to the caste system in the Brave New World”. Factors considered in this view is “life worth living”, or “chance to have decent life”. “Life worth living” in Brave New World is distorted since everyone thinks their life is happy and satisfied, due to the sleeping education. Thus the LWL libertarian view doesn’t make any difference in that world while happiness and satisfactory is predestined.
What Huxley conveys through the embryo conditioning and clustering looks to be a human-nature style disagreement towards genetic modification. Lower caste human lost their humanity and become a tool only for operating certain machine and do certain work. They are objectified and treated same as machine, while their mind is still full of “happiness and satisfactory” after the sleeping moral education.
Huxley also presents his argument from motivation perspective. He emphasized the motivation of genetic engineering in BNW’s world with the D.H.C (Director of Hatcheries and Conditioning)’s exclaim on how Bokanovsky and Podsnap effect could benefit the society. People in the novel take the application of these techniques as huge progress. Through this ironic presentation, Huxley questions if it’s still justifiable that genetic modification should be allowed for the good of society.
Overall, though by the time Huxley wrote the book, the term “genetic engineering” might not been brought into world yet, Huxley use people in the BNW as cases to show his disagreement towards modification on human being, or a totalitarian-based embryo modification on mass production of human being. He considered factors of life worth living, well-being, happiness and motivation etc to be ironically against manually modified reproduction .