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Genetics and ethics

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L031-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 22, 2024, from

Article Summary

The identification of human genes poses problems about the use of resources, and about ownership and use of genetic information, and could lead to overemphasis of the importance of genetic make-up. Genetic screening raises problems of consent, stigmatization, discrimination and public anxiety. Counselling will be required, but whether this can facilitate individual choice is unclear. It will also involve problems of confidentiality. On the other hand genetic knowledge will pave the way for genetic therapies for hereditary disease. This raises the question whether a therapy which alters an individual at the genetic level is different in kind from conventional medical treatment. Genetic alterations passed on to future generations raise problems regarding consent. Genetic intervention could also be used to make ‘improvements’ in human genetic potential, leading to anxieties about eugenic attempts to design the species. Transgenics, the introduction of foreign genes into a genome, raises questions about the integrity of species boundaries and the assessment of risk.

Citing this article:
Chadwick, Ruth. Genetics and ethics, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L031-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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