Moral Schemas in Articulation and Intuition: How Religious People Evaluate Human Reproductive Genetic Technologies
Ecklund, Elaine Howard; Peifer, Jared L.; White, Virginia; Chan, Esther
As new and more effective human reproductive genetic technologies (RGTs) rapidly develop, religious voices remain an important part of public discussion about the moral standing of such technologies. Here, we compare how individuals from different religious traditions evaluate disease RGTs (detecting genetic diseases inﾠvitro) when compared to enhancement RGTs, allowing parents to select features of a child. Findings are gleaned from analysis of 270 interviews with individuals from 23 Christian, Muslim, and Jewish religious organizations, with supporting data from a national survey of more than 10,000 Americans. We find that respondents engage in clearly defined discursive moral reasoning to evaluate the propriety of disease RGTs while moral intuitions manifest themselves in responses to enhancement RGTs. We argue that schemas provide resources for moral discourses while also shaping moral intuitions expressed through emotions. Our results have implications for how religious people respond to new technologies when their institutional and denominational structures do not have readily discernable moral frameworks to guide responses.