Pragmatic approaches to genetic screening
ten Have, Henk
Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy: A European Journal 2005; 8(1): 69-77
Pragmatic approaches to genetic testing are discussed and appraised. Whilst there are various schools of pragmatism, the Deweyan approach seems to be the most appreciated in bioethics as it allows a historical approach indebted to Hegel. This in turn allows the pragmatist to specify and balance principles in various contexts. There are problems with where to draw a line between what is referred to here as the micro- and macro-level of doing bioethics, unless one is simply to be classified as a principlist. Whilst most discussions on genetics occur at a macro level, most specifying must be done also at a micro level - the clinical encounter. Whilst pragmatism encourages us to understand better social and scientific factors and puts into perspective statements like 'playing God', doubts are raised about the 'consensus' process and how one can put aside fundamental values such as the moral status of the embryo on which there is general disagreement. If those doing pragmatism do not endorse these values, there seems to be little ground for process and compromise with those who do. It seems therefore that pragmatism cannot ignore values, even those which are not endorsed by everyone.
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