The two chapters for this, the final reading for my LB355 class, were ones that I very much ended up enjoying. The latter, Ch. 13 titled The Quality of Lives, dealt with the ways that we measure the quality of a person’s life and the way that Utopian Eugenics is involved with the subject. It was a very interesting chapter, and it made me review my preconceived notions about the way I view the choices of others, which brings me back to the even more important chapter, in my honest opinion.
Chapter 12, entitled Self-Dissection, dealt with the philosophical issues surrounding the idea of the self and the impact that genetic technology had upon it, and it was BRILLIANT. I especially enjoyed the section on causality as it put into words what my own ideas are. It boils down to this-we know now that our personalities are caused by outside stimuli as well as internal potentials and so on, which is exactly the point. They are caused. Which would completely destroy the way we view freedom. However, he brings up one of my favorite philosophers, David Hume, and uses his argument: that freedom is not an uncaused action that we take, but that it is an action that is caused by our own wants and desires. However, Kitcher then responds with the conundrum: if our wants and desires are what defines a free action, and our wants are part of our personalities, and our personalities are caused by molecular interactions, doesn’t that mean that we do not have free will anyway?
This back and forth is one of my favorite parts of philosophy, especially because in the end, it really doesn’t have too great an effect on our daily lives. This section tied in a lot of what has been stressed this semester, with Kitcher coming perilously close to taking a reductionist stance, but managing to elaborate that the environment that we are in shapes us as well, which is a theme that has been repeated over and over again in this class, which I do not mind.