With the emergence of clustered, regularly interspaced, short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)/CRISPR-associated protein 9 (Cas9) as one of the most promising new gene-editing techniques, scientists are now endeavoring to apply it to various domains. Among all the possible applications, gene editing in human embryos has received the most attention. Against this background, this article carries out a philosophical study on the ethical problems of human embryo gene editing or designing. Arguments against human embryo gene designing include that parents should be prohibited from deciding their children’s future; commodifying children should be prohibited; the natural reproductive process should not be disturbed; and human embryo gene designing might foster discrimination. Arguments for human embryo gene designing include that parents should have the freedom to design their own babies and this freedom should not be limited; designing babies can promote the happy life of the baby; and totally forbidding embryo gene editing would drive the practice underground, where it would be performed illegally. This article analyzes all of these arguments and points out that all of them have some flaws. In order to draw a thoughtful conclusion, we turn to Confucianism and find a new perspective to determine whether designing babies with CRISPR technology is ethically permissible.
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