Population Genetic Research and Screening: Conceptual and Ethical Issues

Eric T. Juengst

in The Oxford Handbook of Bioethics

Published in print February 2009 | ISBN: 9780199562411
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

 Population Genetic Research and Screening: Conceptual and Ethical Issues

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Like all community-based public health campaigns, proposals to use genetic information to improve the health and welfare of communities, whether the old eugenic sterilization campaigns or the routinized population screening programs of today's ‘public health genetics’, can involve asking affected individuals to make special sacrifices or assume special responsibilities on behalf of the community's welfare. Moreover, unlike public health interventions that restrict individual liberties in order to prevent health problems which all community members risk more or less equally, genetic prevention strategies always require sacrifices on the part of the community who face the genetic risks in question on behalf of those who do not. The irony of ‘community genetics’ is that most human communities are much too heterogeneous to face universal gene pool disasters.

Keywords: population genetics; community-based public health; public health campaigns; genetic information; population screening programs; public health genetics

Article.  8747 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science ; Moral Philosophy

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