We began thinking about writing this book, in the Spring of 1991, because we believed that new genetic knowledge and technology posed challenges not only to traditional social practices, but also to ethical theory. We believed, as nearly everyone does, that ethics should provide guidance for social practice. We also believed that our ethical understanding--the reasons, principles, and theory we draw on--itself has developed in response to specific challenges of social life. Consequently, we thought, the new human capabilities genetics creates requires an examination of ethical theory, not just an application of it. What distinguishes this book is the conviction that we must look deeply inward to the core of our field as moral and political philosophers, as well as outward from it toward the engagement of social practices with new genetic powers.
Because our goal was to produce a sustained and systematic analysis, we have produced a multi-authored book, not an anthology of separate articles. Although all four authors shaped all of the chapters, there was a division of labor. Allen Buchanan is the primary author of the Introduction, Chapters Three and Seven, and the Appendix on Moral Methodology. Dan Brock is chiefly responsible for Chapter Five and shares primary responsiblity with Norman Daniels for Chapter Six. In addition, Daniels is the primary author of Chapter Four. Daniel Wikler is the primary author of Chapter Two and of Chapter Eight (with some input from Buchanan). Although Elliot Sober did not work on other parts of the book, he is the sole author of the Appendix on Genetic Causation.
Skillful copy-editing by Linda Starke has produced a degree of uniformity in style, but differences among the authors regarding philosophical substance remain, in particular regarding some aspects of the theory of just health care and the place of equality of opportunity in a comprehensive theory of justice. In a few cases these differences inevitably manifest themselves, in rather subtle ways, in the book. This necessity we regard as a virtue; the differences among us represent hard philosophical choices at the frontiers of ethical theorizing; we have attempted to signal their presence clearly to the reader, believing that they add richness to the discussion and will help dissipate any illusion that there is one, clearly superior ethical framework that best responds to all the problems. From the outset of this project the authors were keenly aware of a fundamental limitation: although our topic clearly has interdisciplinary dimensions, we are all philosophers, not geneticists, social scientists, or historians. Because of generous funding from the Program on Ethical, Social, and Legal Implications of the Human Genome Project (now called the Human Genome Institute), we were able to enlist an impressive interdisciplinary panel of advisors who provided invaluable guidance a critical junctures during the course of the project: Mark Adams, Paul Billings, Robert Cook-Deegan, and Richard Lewontin. In addition, Robert Cook-Deegan, Thomas Christiano, and Clark Wolf supplied line-by-line comments on a complete draft of the manuscript. The authors are also indebted to David Benatar and Jeff McMahon generously commented on several key arguments and to Diane Paul who guided the presentation of the history of eugenics in Chapter Two. We are also grateful for research and logistical contributions by Sandra Arneson, David Benatar, Ric (Frederick) Bolin, Dale Murray, and Cindy Holder.
Through the long process of completing this project we were sustained by the generous and enthusiastic support of Elizabeth Thomson, Eric Juengst, and Eric Meslin, all of the Program on the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of the Human Genome Research Institute (formerly the Human Genome Project), which supplied funding for the project as a whole. Special thanks are also due to Terrence Moore, of Cambridge University Press, for his editorial expertise and his enthusiastic support.