Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Genetic information, discrimination, philosophical pluralism and politics
  1. Søren Holm1,2
  1. 1 Department of Law, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  2. 2 HELSAM, Department of Health and Society, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Professor Søren Holm, Department of Law, The University of Manchester, Manchester, Manchester, UK; soren.holm{at}

Statistics from

In the paper ‘Genetic information, insurance, and a pluralistic approach to justice’, Jonathan Pugh1 develops an argument from unresolved pluralism in our theories of justice, via the pluralism this occasions in relation to the specific question of the use of genetic test results (GTRs) in insurance underwriting, to the conclusion that the UK regulatory approach in relation to the use of GTRs in insurance is broadly correct.1 Pugh’s argument is wide-ranging and I cannot provide a complete critique of it in this short comment, but I will gesture towards some strands of the argument that are potentially problematic.

The first potential problem in the argument is that Pugh bases his argument on a very extensive range of accounts of justice, including pure maximising consequentialism (he calls it ‘utilitarianism’), strict egalitarianism and libertarianism, among many others. If these are all accounts of justice, it is not strange that there is pluralism of conclusions in relation to a specific question of justice or discrimination, such as the use of GTRs in the underwriting of specific kinds of insurance contracts. Pugh’s range, for instance, includes accounts of justice that deny the direct importance of distributive concerns as well as accounts that see distributive concerns as crucial. These accounts disagree not only about the answer to Pugh’s question but also about …

View Full Text


  • Contributors Single authored.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles

Other content recommended for you