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Overcritical, overfriendly? : A dialogue between a sociologist and a philosopher on genetic technology and its applications.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date11/2005
JournalMedicine, Health Care and Philosophy
Journal number3
Volume8
Number of pages7
Pages377-383
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Are sociologists always critical about genetics? Are philosophers always more supportive? This is the impression of many sociologists in the United Kingdom who argue that contemporary British philosophers criticise genetic technologies and applications in ways that scientists and medical doctors can deal with. They emphasise matters like informed consent, but pay less or no attention to the wider social consequences of technologies, practices and policies. Philosophers in their turn may see sociologists as irrationally hostile to science and medical practice. Some of them refuse to criticise genetics, arguing that there is nothing to criticise. Others feel that their criticisms are in fact more accurate than the concerns raised by sociologists. And yet others point out that the impression of uncritical support can only be true of a certain specific group. Philosophers have so many internal disagreements among themselves that the generalisation can hardly be justified. In this paper an attempt is made by a sociologist (ML) and a philosopher (MH) to understand how sociological and philosophical perspectives on bioethics may differ in discussions about genetics. The paper, which proceeds in dialogue form, is based on our email correspondence on the advantages and disadvantages of genetic technologies and their applications, and on the idea of social consequences as understood by scholars from two different disciplines.