Center for Bioethics Papers

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

October 2002


This paper suggests an analogy between education and genetic interventions as means of shaping the identity of children and future adults. It proposes to look at issues discussed in the philosophy of education as a possible source of insight for ethical guidelines regarding future genetic interventions. The paper focuses on situations of conflict between parents and state regarding the authority to determine the child's best interests. It describes the current formulation of the conflict in the literature as lacking the crucial element of the child's right to a cultural identity. It argues that this element is a necessary component in an ethical analysis of the child's best interests in a multicultural, liberal society which respects diversity. The paper therefore proposes a better model for the moral evaluation of identity-shaping decisions and offers some implications of this model for genetics.


Reprinted from The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine, Volume 69, Issue 5, October 2002, pages 312-316.
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NOTE: At the time of publication, author Vardit Ravitsky was affiliated with Bar Ilan University. Currently March 2007, he is a faculty member in the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.


Identity, genetic interventions, behavioral genetics, children, education, culture, liberalism, autonomy, diversity



Date Posted: 13 March 2007