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Philosophical View on Gattaca

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My Philosophical View on Gattaca

My Philosophical View on Gattaca
I personally always thought that knowing what would happen to me and my life would be a great way to avoid the problems that I might encounter, but after watching Gattaca (1997), I am absolutely glad that I get to face even the smallest challenges in my life. Gattaca (1997) is a good movie overall, but to think of the problems I face on a daily basis makes me glad I am a “God child”, (Gattaca, 1997). In the movie any child born that has not been confirmed by a geneticist of being perfect, or as close as possible to perfect, is known as a “God child, degenerate, faith birth, or in-valid”, (Gattaca, 1997) and any child that is confirmed by a geneticist, to be perfect, is known as a “valid”, (Gattaca, 1997) child or person. Gattaca (1997) is actually a company that runs a space program and only hires “valid” individuals to work for them, because they will be going into space and the directors of Gattaca (1997) do not want anyone that would have a genetic defect and that may possibly pass away while travelling to their destination or while they are in space. The movie Gattaca (1997) is a good film to watch to learn what geneticists need to stay away from. The following is my view on the philosophical problems with the movie Gattaca (1997) and to show that genetics should be left to God, or whoever, and not to humans. The whole premise of the movie, Gattaca (1997), is how the world only wants people to have perfect children and/or people. This is done when a geneticist makes the perfect pairing from a mother’s eggs and father’s sperm to make a child that will not have any health problem or any other genetic defects. The problem I have with the whole process is there is not any real chance for the child to live a life without having everything handed to them and the person will not be able learn from their mistakes. Gattaca (1997) makes this point very clear when the scene of a man playing a piano ends and Vincent, also known as Jerome, and Irene are talking and Irene states “that piece can only be played with twelve”, (Gattaca, 1997). The statement refers to a genetic defect of the piano player, that he has six fingers on each hand and that anyone only having five fingers on each hand would not have been able to play the music piece. This only shows that having a genetic defect does not make a person “in-valid”, (Gattaca, 1997), but shows, by having this defect, that it makes him special, because he is one of the few people that can play this particular piece of music. The movie Gattaca (1997) deals with the issue of discrimination on the basis of genetics, so the problem shown in the movie is the discrimination of an “in-valid”, (Gattaca, 1997) individual. The movie, Gattaca (1997), portrays Vincent as an invalid and yet, Vincent is able to find a way to get around the “in-valid”, (Gattaca, 1997) status and follow his dream. Discrimination is morally wrong and does not have to be based on race, creed, color, or religion. “Vincent (Ethan Hawke) explains in his voice over narration that genes determine your future in this world that strives for perfection, ‘I belonged to a new underclass no longer determined by social status or the colour of your skin’. However as the geneticist points out economics determine whether or not you can have a genetically engineered baby. This contradicts the film’s claim that class is not a factor in discrimination but rather economics and social barriers influence our fate”, (Ellis, 2002). With this kind of discrimination, based on economics, social status, and genetics, not everyone would be able to have a perfect child. The way Vincent overcomes his “in-valid”, (Gattaca, 1997) status is to buy the identity of a “valid”, (Gattaca, 1997) person to donate his blood and urine specimens, so that Vincent can use them to get a job at Gattaca (1997). With help from a middle-man “who didn’t exactly advertise in the yellow pages”, (Gattaca, 1997), Vincent is able to meet Jerome Morrow, buy Jerome’s identity, and become a “valid”, (Gattaca, 1997) individual. This also allows Vincent to follow his dream of becoming an astronaut. Another discrimination that may arise from the movie would be from insurance companies. Knowing that an individual will only live a certain number of years would cause insurance companies to discriminate and charge more for the insurance premiums. “Already some insurance companies have tried to discriminate against people with inherited genetic defects, such as Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and so on. As a consequence, governments are trying to protect private medical information and to prevent insurance companies from refusing coverage. Without such legislation, Gattaca becomes a very real possibility, the kind of world the future may inherit”, (Kakmi, 2004). Vincent is to only live “30.2 years”, (Gattaca, 1997) and an insurance company, if allowed to discriminate, could charge his parents a lot more than a child’s parents that was born at the same time, with the help of a geneticist and have a longer life expectancy. “Insurance, as it currently exists, is based on uncertainty”, (Kakmi, 2004). This tells us that “the insurance company is uncertain of when the insured may die, what he or she may die of, pr what he or she may be debilitated by. Likewise, the insured is equally uncertain”, (Kakmi, 2004). The problem we would face if insurance companies could discriminate based on genetics is more of pricing and being denied insurance coverage, because “if genetic profiling becomes a reality, then clearly insurance companies will do everything in their substantial lobbying power to curtail coverage of certain individuals; on the other hand, an individual that becomes aware that they have a genetic likelihood, if not certainty, of expiring early or experiencing long term and costly debilitation would be under an ethical obligation to declare ‘defectiveness’ and not seek insurance against the inevitable”, (Kakmi, 2004). In other words, this would cause chaos from anyone who had a defect or short life expectancy and cause them to do everything they could to fraud the insurance company. Also this would cause an otherwise decent person to become deceitful and untrustworthy. Lastly I would like to criticize the movie and whoever was responsible in deleting the final scene of the original movie. I found, while doing research for this paper, that one of the deleted scenes was possibly the most important. “The end of the science fiction movie Gattaca, which portrays a world obsessed with genetic perfection, left some film critics unimpressed. But it left at least one geneticist downright crestfallen: French Anderson of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles says his favorite scene from the original version of the film was eliminated. Anderson served as a "volunteer science consultant" to the flick to "make sure the science wasn't absurd," he says. The gene therapy researcher says he found no major flaws and was very impressed with the movie. He was especially taken with the final segment, which showed images of notables such as John F. Kennedy Jr., Albert Einstein, Ray Charles, and Jackie Joyner-Kersee. The on-screen message was that if information from the human genome had been available at the time, these heroes might never have been allowed to be born because they carried, respectively, Addison's disease, dyslexia, primary glaucoma, and asthma-all of which are at least partially inherited. The final screen got personal: "Of course, the other birth that may never have taken place is your own", (Holden, 1997). Not only would this scene have changed my opinion of the movie, but I think it would have helped to make the movie more of a science fiction marvel. In conclusion the movie has a very interesting idea that some people believe should not only be a dream, but become a reality. I believe that it would only cause the world to be more chaotic. If this were to become a reality there would be more fraud, deceit, and violence in this already crazy world. “As in Gattaca [6] where the society has advanced substantially in the understanding of the genetic basis of many traits, and labors under the grip of genetic determinism, such that nearly all children are born as a result of a process of rigorous genetic diagnosis and embryo selection, and desirable social offices and employment are tied ineluctably to a ‘clean’ genetic profile. Next come the warnings from philosophers and theologians about the use of these technologies: Worries about playing God, about tinkering with the natural order of things, about horrendous likely consequences, and about dehumanization”, (Shapshay, 2012). I have heard it said that God created us in his likeness, but I have never heard of him giving us his power. I hope this paper will serve to get geneticists to think a little more rationally about human genetics and they see that genetics should be left to God, or whoever, and not to humans.

Ellis, K. (2002, Summer). Reinforcing the stigma: The representation of disability in Gattaca. Australian Screen Education. Issue 31. p. 111-114.
Holden, C. (1997, 11, 7). Didactics of Gattaca. Science. Vol. 278, Issue 5340. p. 1019.
Kakmi, D. (2004, Winter). The mystery of being in Gattaca. Australian Screen Education. Issue 35. p. 88-90.
Niccol, A. (Director). (1997). Gattaca: The movie [Motion Picture]. United States: Columbia.
Shapshay, S. (2012, Dec. 20). Procreative liberty, enhancement and commodification in the human cloning debate. Health Care Analysis. p. 356-366.

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