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Do you think that it is morally wrong to store the DNA of innocent people on a central database? Living in Scotland, the law says that people who have been charged of a 'violent or sexual offence' can have their DNA stored in a database for 3 years (with the possibility of extending that to 5). This isn't the DNA of people who have been convicted, but the DNA of people who have been charged and subsequently released (essentially innocent in respect to the law). In discussions with friends, I often come across the argument as follows: 'if you haven't done anything wrong, then you don't have anything to worry about'; at which point I often reply: 'if I haven't done anything wrong, then you have no need to hold my DNA'. Do you feel that a government has a duty to hold the DNA of 'potential' criminals like this in order to benefit society at large?

I'm with you. There is a security interest in having as complete as possible a database of DNA, but there is a contrary interest in privacy that I believe trumps the security interest. One reason for this is that, alas, your friends are simply wrong to think that simply because one is innocent one has nothing to fear from the government. Innocent people are convicted perhaps more often than your friends think. I recommend a book called Actual Innocence , which along with the Innocence Project explores how false convictions occur. One way they seem to occur is through the misuse of biological evidence. Or Google "Fred Zain" and "Ralph Erdmann" to learn more about the laboratory misconduct. The case of the Guilford Four in Britain is instructive, too. Sadly, the most prudent course and the course that best protects innocent people is not to allow the state access to the DNA of people charged but found to be innocent. This will, of course, in some cases diminish people's security; but the...

Where moral codes come from? Are they something to aquire or are they inherently in our genes?

Both. General capacities and inclinations for thought, feeling, and conduct are biologically based (not just in our genes but in virtually all our tissues). But the specific way those capacities and inclinations are conceptualized and formulated in principle, narrative, argument, and prohibition shapes, limits, and cultivates them--often in different ways by different people and societies.

Research in anthropology and related disciplines reveals that there is no strong evidence of any universal morals; there are no set of moral beliefs that are found uniformly across all existing countries or cultures. This has often been interpreted to mean that morality is unrelated to the existence of a deity. Some, however, believe that while the lack of universal morals is true it does seem that there is a universal sense of “oughtness”, or a universal tendency to justify what we do, or to place value judgments like “right” and “wrong” on behavior. From a philosophical perspective is this universal tendency toward morality better explained by a need to “get along” to increase fitness in our world (roughly a sociobiological explanation of morality), or is it perhaps better explained by our possessing an intrinsically moral nature, i.e. one that may exist because of the existence of a deity or deities (or even because life may continue after physical death without the existence of a deity). Sociobiology,...

About universal morality: while it's true that among cultures (as among individuals within any culture) there are variation in moral beliefs (as well as scientific beliefs), there are general (nearly universal, so far as I can tell) moral categories. One finds incest regulations, for example, in every society (though the boundaries of those prohibitions vary). Rules concerning possession, killing, and even, arguably, the sacred are more or less universal. I would be pretty reluctant to walk into any human society and start taking bites out of people's children. Moral beliefs and conduct do exhibit variation, but variation by itself doesn't disprove the existence of universal commonalities. Any pharmacist will tell you that different people respond to different drugs differently, but that doesn't refute the universal laws of chemistry. Human moral life, then, exhibits both remarkable variation and remarkable commonality. As you say, there are various possible explanations for this. ...

How can life be defined? What is the borderline between life and no life? Are virus alive? In human beings life starts in the conception? A person in coma or with cerebral palsy is alive? What would be the conditions for a robot to be considered as something alive? Sorry for my english.

Ah, but how can proper English be defined? Like life, there is, I'm afraid, no absolutely precise definition. The boundary is likely to move when considering different contexts (e.g. medical, legal, taxonomic, robotic, spiritual); and even in many of these contexts the boundary is likely to remain vague, or at least provisional. One is likely to feel that there simply must be a clean and formulable line between what's alive and not alive. But my sense of things is that this just isn't the case. In any event, from where I sit, you're both alive and good writer in English.

We are a Muslim couple and it's now 5 years and we don't have childrens. Doctors said that my wife is not having eggs to produce although she is only 32 years old. There is only way to take the eggs from another lady. Please tell me that is it ok or it will be a sin. The answer from the doctors is the final that she will never be able to produce her own eggs so this is the only option for ivf..... Please help me. Rashid

Whether and how to have a child is one of the most intimate and personal matters of life, whatever one's religion. So, ultimately you must make the decision as to what is most fitting for you. I cannot write as a Muslim or as one expert in Muslim theology. As a philosopher, however, I can say that I find nothing objectionable per se in the practice of using ova from a third party in order to generate a baby to which your wife can give birth, that can carry your genetic codes, and that the two of you can raise. I would offer this cautionary note, however. Sometimes the costs of such procedures can be terribly high. That being the case, one ought to consider whether in an (a) already over populated world, where (b) many children stand in need of adoption, and (c ) where many other problems demand attention it is proper to expend so many resources to bring a single child into existence. Conceiving, birthing, and raising a child using a third-party donor may be the best option for you. But do consider...