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Notions of genetic discrimination,genetic determinism,and a utilitarian comparison - Term Paper Example

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Portrayals of scientific fact in the mainstream media are, to most scientists, for the most part inaccurate descriptions of legitimate research methods.One aspect of scientific research that the media commonly misrepresents is that related to genetic research…
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Notions of genetic discrimination,genetic determinism,and a utilitarian comparison
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Download file to see previous pages Portrayals of scientific fact in the mainstream media are, to most scientists, for the most part inaccurate descriptions of legitimate research methods.One aspect of scientific research that the media commonly misrepresents is that related to genetic research. For instance, a study may be published associating on average a specific gene with a certain quantifiable behavior. The media, upon receiving word of this research, will change the wording of the story in order to sensationalize and sell the story as newsworthy, often relying on words like “cause”. Over time, the public has started to perceive “genes” as the causal determinants of our actions, our lives, and our decisions. This view, called “genetic determinism”, lies at the root of many fears about the specter of “genetic discrimination”, which many believe is on the horizon for developed countries where genome maps are becoming increasingly cheap. Nevertheless, it is not clear whether genetic discrimination will grow to become the problem many are forecasting. From an ethical perspective, the problem of genetic discrimination may not lie solely in the act of discriminating against an individual based on his or her genome; rather, the problem may lie in people’s fears about a genetic bias, which may cause some not to seek a diagnosis. Utilitarianism is the ethical theory that the moral content of an act (or rule) consists solely of the degree to which it maximizes happiness (or utility) in the greatest number of people. In other words, the good toward which all of our actions ought to pursue, under the utilitarian theory, is happiness, pleasure, or preference-satisfaction. Accordingly, if by ending the life of one person we save the life of twenty persons, then that act is not only allowable but also preferred under the utilitarian theory. Utilitarianism does have intuitive appeal insofar as any living being will seek to maximize its pleasure and minimize its pain. This moral theory acknowledges this fact and places happiness as the good toward which we evaluate all actions as either moral or immoral. The Utilitarian Argument against Discrimination Under a utilitarian framework, the argument against discrimination in any context follows from the assumption that society will be better off, or enriched, by the contributions of as many people as possible. Thus, if people were to be discriminated against in some fashion, their contributions to society (and ideas on how to make society better) would be lost without an audience. Therefore, as the argument goes, it is wrong to discriminate against people without looking at their character or actions. Utilitarians believe that policies like affirmative action, which are aimed at producing an equal society, are good in that they produce the most happiness for the highest number of people, primarily for the reason given above. However, if this equality lowered the overall good of society, utilitarians would immediately change their mind with respect to the equality-building measures. Likewise, in the case of genetic discrimination, utilitarians usually adopt legislation and other measures to counter the effects of discriminatory practices; nevertheless, if it were to be proven that equality-building attempts (such as banning mandatory genetic testing for new employees) hurt society, utilitarians would be obligated to change their opinions with respect to that situation. The Nature of Genetic Discrimination Genetic discrimination relates to making decisions because of genetic information when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits, or any other term or condition of employment (EEOC, 2010). Employers cannot utilize genetic informati ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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