Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New Paper on Genetic Justice

My paper "Normative Theorizing about Genetics" is forthcoming in the Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics. A sample from the article:

Most contemporary theories of distributive justice are ill-equipped to tackle the kinds of concerns that arise once we expand the domain of justice to include the distribution of genetic endowments. One cannot begin from an account of distributive justice that was designed with the distribution of wealth in mind and then simply “add genetics and stir”. The genetic revolution requires us to undertake a major re-conceptualization of what the demands of justice are. And this means that the fundamental (or first-order) principles or theories we begin with must be open to revision in light of the new empirical discoveries in genetics and human biology.

Genes are special, from the perspective of theorizing about justice, because they (a) have been neglected in our normative theorizing (and thus warrant special attention in order to redress this neglect so that we are better prepared to fairly regulate new genetic technologies); (b) are unique resources and thus require the normative theorist to develop a skill-set that is unique from the skills required for tackling the distribution of external resources like wealth; and (c) genes are special because they play an important role in the development of a wide range of valued phenotypes.