Genetic Information and “genetic Identity”

  • Richard E. Ashcroft


What is genetic information for? One way in which genetic information is used is to identify individuals in the sense of picking them out reliably and iuniquely. This is the way information is used in so-called genetic finger-printing and in tests of paternity. Another way genetic information is used is in diagnosis. Suppose I have a certain pattern of symptoms which may indicate one disease, but which may indicate something else. Suppose further that the prognoses of the diseases are different, or that the indicated treatments for the two diseases differ, so that it matters that the diagnosis be correct. It may be known that one of the diseases has a genetic basis, while the other does not (or has a different one). Then one could use genetic information in a diagnostic test to rule out one or both diseases. A third use for genetic information is in predictive screening. Does a patient have a gene implicated in a particular disease, such that they are at increased risk of developing that disease (or are certain to do so)? Is a patient a carrier for a gene which means that any children he or she may have with another carrier for the gene are at risk of a certain genetic disease?


Genetic Information Genetic Screening Normed Theory Genetic Identity Genetic Theory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Blackburn, S. (1984) Spreading the Word: Groundings in the Philosophy of Language Oxford University Press: OxfordGoogle Scholar
  2. Boër, S.E. and Lycan, W.G. (1986) Knowing Who MIT Press: Cambridge, MassachusettsGoogle Scholar
  3. Campbell, A.V. (1992), ‘Ethical and legal issues’ in Elwood, J.M., Little, J., Elwood, J.H. (eds.) Epidemiology and Control of Neural Tube Defects Oxford University Press: OxfordGoogle Scholar
  4. Elliot, R. (1997) ‘Genetic therapy, person-regarding reasons and the determination of identity’ Bioethics, Vol. 11No.2Google Scholar
  5. Foucault, M. (1980) Power/Knowledge Harvester: BrightonGoogle Scholar
  6. Gärdenfors, P. and Sahlin, N.-E. (eds.) (1988) Decision, Probability and Utility: Selected Readings Cambridge University Press: CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  7. Grice, H.P. (1957) ‘Meaning’, Philosophical Review, Vol.lxviNo.3Google Scholar
  8. Hare, R.M. (1993) ‘Possible people’ in his Essays on Bioethics Oxford University Press; OxfordGoogle Scholar
  9. Kripke, S. (1984) Naming and Necessity, Blackwell: OxfordGoogle Scholar
  10. Lockwood, M. (1994) ‘Identity matters’ in Fulford, K.W.M., Gillett, G., Soskice, J.M. (eds.) Medicine and Moral Reasoning Cambridge University Press; CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  11. May, W.F. (1991) The Patients Ordeal Indiana University Press: Bloomington, IndianaGoogle Scholar
  12. Persson, I. (1995) ‘Genetic therapy, identity and the person-regarding reasons’, Bioethics, Vol. 9No.1Google Scholar
  13. Persson, I (1997) ‘Genetic therapy, person-regarding reasons and the determination of identity—a reply to Robert Elliot’, Bioethics, Vol. 11no.2Google Scholar
  14. Schüklenk, U., Stein, E., Kerin, J., Byne, W. (1997) ‘The ethics of genetic research on sexual orientation’, Hastings Center Report, Vol. 27No.4Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard E. Ashcroft
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Ethics in MedicineUniversity of BristolBristol

Personalised recommendations