Informed decision making about predictive DNA tests: arguments for more public visibility of personal deliberations about the good life.
van der Burg, Simone
Medicine, Health Care, and Philosophy 2010 May; 13(2): 127-138
Since its advent, predictive DNA testing has been perceived as a technology that may have considerable impact on the quality of people's life. The decision whether or not to use this technology is up to the individual client. However, to enable well considered decision making both the negative as well as the positive freedom of the individual should be supported. In this paper, we argue that current professional and public discourse on predictive DNA-testing is lacking when it comes to supporting positive freedom, because it is usually framed in terms of risk and risk management. We show how this 'risk discourse' steers thinking on the good life in a particular way. We go on to argue that empirical research into the actual deliberation and decision making processes of individuals and families may be used to enrich the environment of personal deliberation in three ways: (1) it points at a richer set of values that deliberators can take into account, (2) it acknowledges the shared nature of genes, and (3) it shows how one might frame decisions in a non-binary way. We argue that the public sharing and discussing of stories about personal deliberations offers valuable input for others who face similar choices: it fosters their positive freedom to shape their view of the good life in relation to DNA-diagnostics. We conclude by offering some suggestions as to how to realize such public sharing of personal stories.
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