Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 197–206 | Cite as

Social-science Perspectives on Bioethics: Predictive Genetic Testing (PGT) in Asia

  • Margaret Sleeboom-Faulkner


In this essay, I indicate how social-science approaches can throw light on predictive genetic testing (PGT) in various societal contexts. In the first section, I discuss definitions of various forms of PGT, and point out their inherent ambiguity and inappropriateness when taken out of an ideal–typical context. In section two, I argue further that an ethics approach proceeding from the point of view of the abstract individual in a given society should be supplemented by an approach that regards bioethics as inherently ambiguous, contested, changeable and context-dependent. In the last section, I place these bioethical discussions of PGT in the context of Asian communities. Here, a critical view of what constitutes a community and culture proves necessary to understand the role of bioethical debates and the empirical manifestations of PGT in Asian societies. A discussion of the concepts of family and kinship in relation to PGT indicates that any bioethical analysis has to take into account that bioethical values are not just reflections of a cultural community, but embody both bioethical ideals and prevalent political rhetoric which is exhibited, propagated and manipulated by individuals and collectives for a variety of purposes. I end by summarising the contributions that social science could make to the understanding of the bioethics of PGT.


Molecular diagnostic techniques Genetic screening Asia Social sciences Culture 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of SussexFalmer, nr BrightonUK

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