MOLS8002 Bioethics and Biotechnology


Essay Questions for Essay Option 2

Worth: PHIL2060 – 30% / MOLS8002 – 25%

Word length: PHIL2060 – 1500 words maximum /MOLS8002 – 1800 words maximum

Submission Instructions: 

  • Essays must be submitted via your relevant Essay Option Two TurnItIn link on the

PHIL2060/MOLS8002 iLearn site under “Assessments”. Only Word documents will be accepted. Strictly NO jpeg, pdf or other image formats permitted. For marking purposes, no Word document = no submission, and no submission = a grade of zero. 

  • ONLY ONE SUBMISSION PERMITTED. You must make sure you upload the correct version of your essay. You CANNOT check your similarity score and resubmit – you must not plagiarize.
  • Format: You must provide the question number of the specific essay question you have chosen, in your file name when you upload your essay to Turnitin. Your essay must be written in 12-point font and lines must be double-spaced. Failure to comply with these requirements will result in loss of marks for the ‘Presentation’ criteria.
  • Extensions must be requested before the due date via the MQ Special Consideration application process only. Do not email the convenor or tutor with an extension request, as we are no longer able to approve them directly. Extensions will be granted only in exceptional circumstances, such as documented illness or accident, not Coursework deadlines in other units.
  • LATE SUBMISSION POLICY: Unless a Special Consideration request has been approved, the following will apply:
    • Late penalty – two (2) marks out of 100 will be deducted per day for assignments submitted after the due date;
    • No assignment will be accepted more than seven (7) days (incl. weekends) after the original submission deadline.
    • No late submissions will be accepted for timed assessments – e.g. online test.
  • It is a requirement that you have read the Academic Honesty Policy, located on the unit iLearn site under

“Assessment”.  Under “Useful Links” you will also find resources like Writing Essays In Philosophy; How to Write An Argumentative Paper; the Turnitin Student User Guide; and How to Read Philosophy guide.  

  • Plagiarism: Deliberate or inadvertent plagiarism is a serious offense. Strict penalties and university reporting will apply (see Academic Honesty Policy).
  • Reading: To achieve a Pass grade or higher in this assessment you must demonstrate familiarity with at least two of the Required Readings for your chosen topic PLUS at least one additional reading for your topic. You may find your own or use the Supplementary Readings list on the Unit iLearn site for suggested additional reading. NOTE: The additional source must be a philosophy source (not medicine, science, or other).
  • The purpose of the essay is to develop your ability to understand and analyse philosophical texts and arguments, to reflect on a range of views relevant to the topic, and to critically assess the reasons provided in support of these views. When explaining a position or argument, do so in your own words as far as possible. Provide reasons in support of every argument/view/judgement you present. Do not use extended quotations and always explain/expand upon any quotations used.


NOTE: To avoid heavy loss of marks make sure you read the question carefully and answer ONLY the question asked!

  1. Explain and evaluate the ‘life in the shadow’ argument against human reproductive cloning. What are its strong points? What are its weak points? Do you ultimately agree or disagree with the argument? Explain and fully defend your position with arguments.
  1. Read the following and answer the question below:

Successes in applying somatic gene therapy to primates afflicted with Parkinson’s disease offers hope that a treatment might also be on the horizon for other neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Huntington disease. But while somatic therapy might be helpful in restoring partial or even full functioning to an affected individual, it does not solve the problem of the condition being passed on to future generations. Yet, this devastating disease could be controlled, and possibly eradicated, through germ-cell genetic therapy. 

GeneSolutions, a Vancouver based commercial laboratory specializing in gene therapy, has succeeded in producing a vector (a modified adenovirus) that is able to go directly to chromosome 4 and reduce the number of CAG repeats associated with the disease (>38) to the normal compliment (<30). However, this therapy is designed for germ-cell treatment, either by pre-implantation (e.g., modification of cells in an early embryo) or by modifying sperm or ovum prior to IVF. GeneSolutions is confident that they have addressed all quality and safety concerns, and that they have a therapy that can help affected families plan for a future free of Huntington disease.  Adapted from <>

Question: Given its significant potential benefits, on what grounds might someone oppose the use of germ-cell therapy for this and other purposes? Explain their position, and evaluate it. Do you agree that somatic cell therapies are always to be preferred over germ-cell ones? Defend your answers.

  1. By reference to the argument from ‘procreative beneficence’, explain the position that we have a moral obligation to use genetic enhancement technology to produce the best possible children we can. Evaluate that argument: do you agree/disagree? Provide reasons to defend your evaluation, and respond to at least one objection to it.
  1. Some argue that there is something special and ‘exceptional’ about human genetic material that means that it should not be commercialised in any way. Fully explain that argument and evaluate it: do you agree/disagree? Why? Given reasons to defend your evaluation fully.
  1. Explain and critically evaluate the argument that agricultural biotechnology is a ‘technological fix’. In doing so, explain the supposed problem of technological fixes with reference to at least one example, one philosophical argument, and one practical argument. Explain clearly whether you agree or disagree that these uses of biotechnology are technological fixes in a problematic way, and your reasons for forming that view.

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