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Conservationism and Bioethics

The lead article in this issue of the Hastings Center Report (July-August 2017) explores the ideas underpinning the Precision Medicine Initiative, the effort announced by President Obama in 2015 to promote the development of treatments adjusted to genetic and other variations. Authors Maya Sabatello and Paul Appelbaum hold that the effort works by appealing to a sense of collective identity and shared commitment—an understanding that they call the “PMI nation.” But what are the moral implications of this idea? Sabatello and Appelbaum’s question about the impact of an imagined community is an unusual way of exploring a set of values questions. In the second article, Johann Brännmark defends what is, at least in bioethics, an unusual philosophical framework for moral values. Brännmark starts by calling attention to large, never-quite-solved problems with the field’s going way of understanding personhood and autonomy, and then argues that the body of tradition, law, and international governance known as the human-rights framework offers a solution to those problems. And a supplement to this issue offers a set of essays on a topic outside the usual range for bioethics: the prospect of “de-extinction”—that is, of using genetic and reproductive technologies to construct simulacra of extinct animals that might eventually be introduced into the wild.

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