Populations and Genetics: Legal and Socio-Ethical Perspectives

By Bartha Maria Knoppers | Go to book overview

Do the Ethical Duties of Donor, and Administrators,
Depend on whether the Database is Public or
Private?

Darryl Macer

Director, Eubios Ethics Institute, Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Japan


Our Duty to Contribute to Advancement of Knowledge

Confucious said that “to love a thing means wanting it to live”.1 The ethical principle of beneficence, which we could say means loving good, requires us to develop ways to help others in the world. One of these ways to help others is science and technology. Human beings have a right to exercise their mind and ingenuity to create alternative solutions to problems that they see to be important. As long as this creativity does not harm someone else, this right to think and then apply this thinking to innovations, is recognized on this planet as a fundamental human right. The human genome project itself is helping to find medicine, however some applications raise moral concerns. Although most of these were present in medical genetics before, modern medical genetics is going to touch everyone’s life. What are the responsibilities of different sectors in society, such as patients, the general public, scientists, nurses, doctors, etc., to these challenges?

There is no person on the planet earth who does not benefit in some way from the advancement of technology by his or her forefathers, and most from the contributions of technology made through the global endeavour known as science. The pursuit of science has been a universally agreed goal, as explained in the UNESCO Charter. Despite the problems which technology has brought, there are inarguably benefits to all from the development of science, and knowledge. Considering the demands of solidarity to humankind2, and to the heritage of life in general, we could argue that there is

Bartha Maria Knoppers (ed.), Populations and Genetics: Legal and Socio-Ethical Perspectives. © 2003 Koninklijke Brill NV. Printed in the Netherlands.

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