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J Med Ethics 34:361-364 doi:10.1136/jme.2007.021162
  • Ethics

Genomics and equal opportunity ethics

  1. A W Cappelen1,
  2. O F Norheim2,
  3. B Tungodden3
  1. 1
    Centre for Ethics and Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Bergen, Norway
  2. 2
    Division for Medical Ethics and Philosophy of Science, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway
  3. 3
    Department of Economics, Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, Bergen, Norway
  1. Dr O F Norheim, Division for Medical Ethics and Philosophy of Science, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen, Kalfarveien 31, N-5018 Bergen, Norway; ole.norheim{at}isf.uib.no
  • Received 6 July 2006
  • Revised 27 March 2007
  • Accepted 24 May 2007

Abstract

Genomics provides information on genetic susceptibility to diseases and new possibilities for interventions which can fundamentally alter the design of fair health policies. The aim of this paper is to explore implications of genomics from the perspective of equal opportunity ethics. The ideal of equal opportunity requires that individuals are held responsible for some, but not all, factors that affect their health. Informational problems, however, often make it difficult to implement the ideal of equal opportunity in the context of healthcare. In this paper, examples are considered of how new genetic information may affect the way individual responsibility for choice is assigned. It is also argued that genomics may result in relocation of the responsibility cut by providing both new information and new technology. Finally, how genomics may affect healthcare policies and the market for health insurance is discussed.

Footnotes

  • Competing interests: None declared.