[Milton-L] Milton/genetic modification (was It ain't exactly Milton...)

Harold Skulsky hskulsky at email.smith.edu
Sat May 27 16:10:18 EDT 2006


"If Milton were alive today, he wouldn't be John Milton! The question of what he would think now is, therefore, incoherent. "

By dint of ignoring context and tacit understandings between speaker and audience, any contrafactual statement can be dismissed out of hand. 

Presumably the question of whether M would endorse genetic modifications is the question of whether the historical M's ethical principles entail or allow such an endorsement. 

This question could be rescued from frivolity by being taken quite literally, as an invitation to tease out M's ethical principles in their full generality. There's no guarantee, of course, that the result of taking up the invitation would be a coherent set of principles, allowing a determinate answer to the original question. And probably nothing less than a booklength study of the verse and prose--along with careful discussion of M's probable sources--would be adequate.






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