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Title: Incentives, Genetics and the Egalitarian Ethos
Author(s): FEENEY, Oliver
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 19    Issue: 1   Date: 2012   
Pages: 83-102
DOI: 10.2143/EP.19.1.2152680

Abstract :
Given the constraints of human partiality and the possible social benefits of widespread genetic technology, allowing for incentive-based inequalities in access in order to boost innovation and diffusion may be the only feasible option available to the post-genomics egalitarian planner. In light of the prevailing ethos that exists in the non-ideal circumstances of society, an initial post-genomics egalitarian goal for all to have equivalent access to comparable genetic interventions seems very unlikely to succeed. While I outline how the initial egalitarian goal can entail either overly prohibitive or overly idealistic prescriptions, I argue that the more recent non-ideal focus has not given adequate attention to how different distributions in genetic access may not only be constrained by, but may also affect the prevailing ethos for better or worse, in turn affecting the range of feasible options into the future. I analyse Farrelly’s Lax Genetic Difference Principle (hereafter Lax GDP), as an exemplar of a non-ideal post-genomics theorising, and evaluate it in terms of its anticipated effects on the egalitarian ethos. I argue that achieving a more just distribution of access to genetic technologies, by principles that take into account genuine non-ideal considerations, requires a greater awareness of such effects. Finally, I briefly sketch a framework for ‘ethos-proofing’ non-ideal principles, in terms of access to genetic technologies, particularly enhancements, with regard to maintaining and fostering such an egalitarian ethos.

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