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Distributive Justice and Genetics

  1. Colin Farrelly

Published Online: 16 APR 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005889.pub2



How to Cite

Farrelly, C. 2012. Distributive Justice and Genetics. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Queen's University, Kingston, Canada

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 16 APR 2012


What will the demands of distributive justice be in the post-genetic revolutionary world? Will genetic inheritance be regarded as socially distributed goods? This may seem a more reasonable position to assert as biotechnology progresses further toward human genetic manipulation. Advances in human genetics raise a number of unique considerations for theories of justice, ranging from the realisation of egalitarian ideals and the therapy/enhancement distinction to the scope and limits of reproductive freedom. As new empirical discoveries are made concerning the environmental and natural determinants of human welfare, theories of justice must re-conceptualise what the demands of justice are and how society can fairly distribute the natural and social goods which influence the life prospects of humans.

Key Concepts:

  • Aging is the progressive loss of function accompanied by decreasing fertility and increasing mortality with advancing age.

  • Distributive justice is concerned with what constitutes a fair distribution of the benefits and burdens of social cooperation.

  • Luck egalitarianism is the view which maintains that inequalities that are the result of factors beyond a person's control, such as inequalities in natural endowments, are unjust.

  • The Priority View maintains that it is morally more important to benefit the people who are worse off.

  • Procreative liberty is freedom in activities and choices related to procreation.

  • The Sufficiency View maintains that what is morally important is for everyone to have enough.


  • distributive justice;
  • equality;
  • genes;
  • John Rawls;
  • natural lottery of life;
  • reproductive freedom