In 2002, Steven Spielberg directed the film Minority Report which was based loosely on the short story by Phillip K. Dick of the same name. In the film, set in 2054, a special police department called “pre-crime” apprehends criminals before  they actually commit their crimes based on the foreknowledge of three psychics termed “pre-cogs”. The story reveals a challenging moral dilemma: can people be held accountable for actions they have yet to commit?

MSNBC reports that there is new evidence that suggests that DNA testing can reveal the biological and emotional states of people, thus indicating whether or not an individual is capable or pre-disposed to violent behavior. It doesn’t take long to unpackage the potential implications. If DNA can reveal that a person is inclined to violent behavior, would it not obligate the government to at the very least, monitor such individuals closely, thus potential infringing upon personal liberty, and at most, remove such individuals from society altogether if it is determined by their DNA that they pose a risk to the safety of others?

Furthermore, there are profound implications here as it relates to personal accountability. For example, the Supreme Court of South Carolina reversed a murder conviction for a man who shot a shopkeeper in the head, concurring with the killer’s attorney that his actions were an outgrowth of severe, genetically rooted depression — essentially saying that what he did was the result of an inherited disease rather than an act of free will. While I would not argue for free will in the same way that it appears the author of the linked article may, I hope we would be in agreement that all individuals are accountable for their actions – and especially those actions which infringe upon the civil liberties of others – regardless of their psychological, emotional or physicial disposition.

I found this article fascinating. I compels us to ask a significant question: Does this kind of research and testing cross moral and spiritual boundaries? Has medical technology become the modern day Tower of Babel?

Advertisements