Between the individual and the community: the impact of genetics on ethical models

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This paper discusses how genetics is influencing ethical frameworks with particular focus on the effectiveness and appropriateness of individual and communal models. It suggests that genetics supports a relational understanding of the person and therefore that genetic ethics requires ethical models which respect both individuals and groups. First, the inadequacy of individualistic frameworks - at conceptual, ethical and practical levels - is outlined. Second, the ocommunal turno in genetic ethics in both clinical and population ethics is considered. Third, it is claimed that this communal turn is applicable to genetic ethics in general and to illustrate this two further examples are explored: those of UK Biobank and personalized medicine. The paper concludes that ethical frameworks in genetic ethics must accommodate both group and individual concerns.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-188
Number of pages16
JournalNew Genetics and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2009


  • individualism, communal ethics, ethics, trust model, personalized medicine, groups