Can Democracy Be an Agent of Both Power and Goodness?

To Promote True Civic Virtue, Our System of Government Needs an Ethical Compass and to Actively Engage Citizens

Of all the political words that trip off our tongues yet bedevil understanding, one of the most important is “democracy.”

Strictly translated, it signifies authoritative power (kratos) by the citizenry or people (demos)—particularly the lower and middle classes—in the public affairs of a political order. Of course, this does not describe our reality.

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We Americans live in a republic, whose laws are made by public officials in whom citizens invest power and authority, legitimating their power over the citizens who are governed. …

Do Genes Really Determine Your Hobbies, Relationships, and Voting Habits?

Science and Pop Culture Make DNA Seem All-Important, But Nurture Still Matters as Much as Nature

Over the past 25 years, we’ve become surprisingly comfortable with the idea that genes play a large role in our lives. When DNA is in the mix, people assume that …

Can Spies Be Ethical?

In an Age of Terrorists, Agents for Liberal Democracies Must Balance the Need to Stop Bad Actors With Moral Responsibility

Codes of ethics help define our expectations of the professions. Teachers should not seduce their students; fund managers should not embezzle clients’ money; doctors should not harm patients. So too, …

Designer DNA Isn’t Just for ‘Designer Babies’

Dystopian Imagery Makes It Hard to Assess the Perils and Promise of Gene Editing

When we talk about gene editing technology, we often talk about—but almost never deeply consider—the concept of designer babies. Consider this article in The New York Times, titled “Gene Editing …