Social risks of the genetic revolution: from the standpoint of the legal approach

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Chief Researcher, Sector of Philosophy of Law, History and Theory and of the State and Law of the Institute of State and Law of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Affiliation: Institute of State and Law of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Journal nameGosudarstvo i pravo
EditionIssue 4

Technological progress and law development until recently were different facets of one common process of mankind progressive advancement towards asserting greater independence from the natural elements and expanding the scope of human freedom. At the same time, law, on the one hand, was the most important incentive for the development of the creative potential of mankind as a source of scientific and technical innovations, and on the other hand, it was an effective way to correct deformations within the system of techno-humanitarian balance, guaranteeing against the most dangerous manifestations of technological power. However, with the advent of the 21st century convergent NBIC-technologies, the law increasingly demonstrates its inability to reduce the technological development risks to an acceptable level. The novelty of the situation is that social risks come to the fore. This trend is most clearly manifested in the field of legal regulation of the processes of creating and applying technologies for editing the human genome. A whole series of breakthroughs in the field of studying the human genome, carried out in recent decades, has opened up huge prospects not only for the development of medicine, but also for changing the natural qualities of a person, up to the possibility (so far theoretical) to control the mankind biological evolution. These new opportunities lead to entail proportionate social risks, connected primarily with the danger of an irreconcilable split of humanity into different socio-biological groups. In the current conditions law is not able to cope with the threat of humanity losing its biosocial unity. The hopes expressed in the public space for moral and religious factors to counteract the dangers of technological dehumanization, fraught with a surge of social injustice, seem to be greatly overestimated. There is even less reason to count on the so-called “moral bioimprovement” of mankind. In the current situation, apparently, there is no other way than a difficult creative search, focused on improving social, economic and political relations in line with an equitable legal approach. Successes along this path would provide the conditions under which the human community would be able to preserve the law vector of biotechnological development and, at the same time, avoid its catastrophic consequences.

Keywordsgenetic revolution, editing of the inherited human genome, socionormative regulation, law, morality, religion, humanity, biosocial split
AcknowledgmentThe study was carried out with a grant from the Russian Science Foundation (project No. 19-18-00422)
Publication date28.04.2023
Number of characters37830
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