Proceedings chapter
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The human genome : metaphysical object and political icon

ContributorsMauron, Alex
Presented at Kobe, 3-8 November 1997
PublisherChristchurch : Eubios Ethics Institute
Publication date1998

In recent years, the Human Genome Project has generated many questions on the ethical value of the human genome as such. Is there a right to an "non manipulated" genome? Should the genome be protected ? against what and in what sense ? Is genetic diversity in humans a value to be treasured ? if so, what is its ethical relevance ? What connection does it have (if any) with the value of genetic diversity in animals and plants ? To dispel some of the bewilderment raised by these questions, one must address a set of more basic conceptual problems: how do we understand the relationship between the genome of a cell, the genome of a person and "the Human Genome"? What stakes can one legitimately have in one's genome? What stakes can humankind have in "the Human Genome"? In Switzerland, a specific and rather unique context is given to these debates because there is a special "genetics and reproductive technology" article in the Constitution, which specifies that gene technology must respect "the dignity of creatures". Not surprisingly, this article can be interpreted in contradictory ways, but it provides an interesting focal point for the dilemmas of "genomic metaphysics".

Citation (ISO format)
MAURON, Alex. The human genome : metaphysical object and political icon. In: Bioethics in Asia : Proceedings of the UNESCO Asian Bioethics Conference (ABC′97) and the WHo-assisted Satellite Symposium on Medical Genettes Services. Kobe. Christchurch : Eubios Ethics Institute, 1998. p. 35–40.
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