We can now improve human characteristics and treat diseases and disorders using biotechnology. The distinction between biotechnology and therapy appears to be hazy. Several scholars have focused on the ethics of enhancements, but they have neglected to mention the criteria that define what constitutes an enhancement. It’s crucial to think about the ethics of enhancement before making a decision. In addition, questions about the contents of enhancements versus therapy or treatment must be addressed. The significance of the distinction between therapy and enhancements has been debated by many academics. However, little information about the placement of distinction has been revealed.
Health practitioners including doctors, nurses, researchers, and surgeons are bound with an oath to do no harm to the patient. However, in health practice there is a growing number of dilemmas that put the patients at the risk of being harmed. Despite the fact that risk is freely and willingly undertaken, the intention to save lives is sometimes impossible (Cabrera, 2014). For instance, the medical field has been headlined with issues such as dual use of drugs such as anabolic steroids for treatment and enhancement. In such cases, patients take psychostimulants to treat disorders such as ADHD. On the other hand, some students illicitly use the same drugs to help them focus on their studies. Another example is reconstructive surgery that has been used to repair damaged or deformed body parts. Meanwhile, perfectly healthy people are using deconstructive surgery as a way of enhancing their appearance.
While these drugs and procedures are orally questionable, we still find people using them. This is because their side effects have no clear definition when it comes to harm. As a result, this leads to the threatening of the Hippocratic Oath as well as professional responsibility (Jefferson, Douglas, & Savulescu, 2014). For instance, while drinking beer may be termed as a healthy habit, it may result into addition or other side effects such as hangovers. Presently, human enhancement stems from pharmacology and other procedures like cosmetic surgery. As biotechnology continues to enhance, so will the ethical dilemmas. As such, the main problem is whether there is a distinction between therapy and enhancement.
The Distinction between Therapy and Enhancement
While therapy seeks to improve someone’s health being, enhancement manipulates the normal functioning of the human body (Cabrera, 2014). Therapy is permissible in case of life-altering conditions or diseases. As enhancement should not be acceptable except for special circumstances. Those who are against enhancement believe that it threatens the societal appreciation of life. As such, the procedures drastically alters parenthood. For instance, genetic enhancements are similar in the way engineers enhance planes, computers, and medicine. It is agreeable that enhancement, especially in children will be like a bondage. This is because these children were not given a choice to be free. Through enhancements we no longer appreciate the natural occurrence. People have embraced biotechnology into a system that can be manipulated (Jefferson, Douglas, & Savulescu, 2014).
If a procedure falls short of preventing, diagnosing, correcting or curing a condition, then it is not necessary as it goes against the code of ethics. Secondly, enhancement should only be carried out if there are no other medical services available or suitable for the patients’ condition. When a person’s condition is severely abnormal, the options such as Ritalin or pituitary deficiency help to enhance human growth hormone. As such, some heritable diseases can be avoided by the use of enhancements by considering the process therapeutic.
On the other hand, people will take advantage of Ritalin for the sake of improvement alone. For instance, some people are known to use Ritalin to slow down the aging process. Presently, athletes have become notorious for the use of enhancement for muscle functioning. Therefore, these procedures are non-therapeutic. From these examples we are able to observe the demonstration of therapy and enhancement (Cabrera, 2014). Therapy is whereby the question of human health looks into capacity and performance. On the contrary, the enhancement looks into rising beyond the existing level of health, capacity or performance which is not even necessary.
The ambiguity of the two situations blurs the importance of the difference between therapy and enhancement. There is a thin line between the standard that determines the difference between therapy and procedure. However, it takes the understanding of health and medical provisions to distinguish between therapy and procedure. The role of medicine is to prevent the individuals from falling below general distribution and suffering in terms of health (Earp, Sandberg, Kahane, & Savulescu, 2014). While it is agreeable that the line between therapy and enhancement is blurry, it is important to assert that some procedures are not only unnecessary, but also inappropriate, morally questionable, and dehumanizing.
In conclusion, the advancement in biotechnology tends to narrow the line between what is ethical during health practice. Doctors prescribe therapy or procedures to patients to improve their health being. On the other hand, some people take advantage of biotechnology to enhance their appearance of body functioning. Despite the fact that this may lead to adverse consequences, it also questions the moral grounds of health practitioners. Through the provision of medicine, it is important to draw a line between therapy and enhancement.
Cabrera, L. Y. (2014). Empirical support for the moral salience of the therapy-enhancement distinction in the debate over cognitive, affective, and social enhancement. Neuroethics, 8(1), 243-256.
Earp, B., Sandberg, A., Kahane, G., & Savulescu, J. (2014). When is diminishment a form of enhancement? Rethinking the enhancement debate in biomedical ethics. Frontier in Systems Neuroscience, 12(1), 1-8.
Jefferson, W., Douglas, T. K., & Savulescu, J. (2014). Enhancement and social virtue. Social Theory and Practice, 40(3), 499-527.