Virtual Issue on Genetics

This special online issue of the Hastings Center Report brings together disparate discussions of the ethical issues posed by genetic science. In early issues of the Report, in the 1970s, discussions of genetics often sought partly just imply to identify and organize the issues- and to argue, in effect, that this was a topic that bioethics should address. Since then, the discussion has turned to more narrowly drawn issues. In this issue, for example, a set of six essays addresses the prospect that genetic information will lead to an era of “personalized medicine, ” with implications not only for medical treatment but also for cost of care, biobanking, privacy, and access to information, among other things. In the lead article, legal scholar Mark Rothstein considers whether health policy should address genetic information separately from other kinds of medical information, and in an editorial on Rothstein founded in the column titled Another Voice, British philosopher Neil Manson explains why treating genetic information separately seems so attractive. A special supplement to this issue, by Hastings scholar Erik Parens, explores the ramifications of behavioral genetics, and other items branch off in still other directions, including (genuinely going afield here) into the prospect that genetic and other sciences might allow human beings to transcend the human condition. The items selected for this issue emphasize more recent scholarship and commentary, but were otherwise chosen precisely to capture as much as possible of the range of material that has appeared in the Report on this topic.

Click here to read the virtual issue.