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Genetic exceptionalism, revisionism, pluralism and convergence in the ethics of insurance: response to commentators
  1. Jonathan Pugh
  1. The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jonathan Pugh, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 1PT, UK; jonathan.pugh{at}

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I would like to begin by thanking all of the commentators for their insightful analyses of ‘Genetic information, insurance and a pluralistic approach to justice’; I learnt a great deal from them all. Naturally, I cannot do justice to all of their criticisms in this brief response; instead, I shall use their remarks to prompt some clarificatory points about my arguments in the hope that this will help readers to draw their own conclusions about the various points of disagreement.

My aim in the paper was modest; I aimed to argue that considerations of justice do not speak unequivocally against the use of Genetic Test Results (GTRs) in insurance, and that a pluralist approach may lend support to some limited uses. This represents a compromise position between outright prohibition, and using GTRs in an insurance market in accordance with purely commercial principles. Notably, this conclusion is compatible with the thought that there may be other very strong moral reasons in favour of prohibition. These include concerns about privacy, as well as the consequentialist and human rights considerations that Tiller and Delatycki rightly highlight.1

Of course, considerations of justice are not orthogonal to questions regarding the right against genetic discrimination, since such a right might plausibly be supported by appeal to broadly egalitarian considerations. Indeed, one important challenge for the rights-based argument for prohibition is to defend the strong degree of genetic exceptionalism it connotes. As I briefly suggested in the paper, broadly egalitarian arguments might be invoked in an attempt to justify at least some degree of genetic exceptionalism here. Notably though, in her commentary, Feiring expresses scepticism about the view of genetic exceptionalism that is implicit in my acceptance of the idea that the use of GTRs in insurance warrants its own specific guidance.2 Given the different …

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  • Contributors JP is the sole author.

  • 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 Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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