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Discourse ethics when applied to the realm of medical practice seeks to construct a rational basis on which clinical decisions can be made by building a position based on iterative argument. What happens then, when such a process fails? In this paper, Mands et al report a detailed chronology and mapping of how arguments for and against the predictive genetic testing of minors for adult-onset conditions have evolved over time. They note that positions have changed very little, and suggest that because the same core arguments are cited again and again with only subtle variations and little demonstrable rapprochement between opposing camps, that a different approach is required. They contend that more evidence is necessary but tellingly also concede that resolution in this manner may only be arrived at for a subset of assertions made by the pro and contra parties. A core set of the contestable ‘value claims’ apparently lie beyond the reach of empirical investigation.1
The appeal for empirical research is laudable and may progress certain aspects of the debate. However, in considering what knowledge can be expected to be acquired from such studies some …
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