REI Colloquium – Mercer Gary
“Genetic Interdependence: Revising Relational Autonomy in Light of Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing”
Abstract: The emergence of feminist relational theory in the 1990s coincided with a sharp increase in genetic testing in the United States. The circle of related others necessarily implicated by any individual genetic test raised questions within bioethics about the possibility of individual patients to make self-determined decisions in a context shot through with social and interpersonal influence and dependence. This talk takes up the resulting concept of relational autonomy, or socially constituted agency, in the contemporary setting of direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing. I argue that the commercialization of genetics through the DTC model and the challenges it poses to genetic data security highlight the need for further clarification of the kinds of relationships relevant to the concept of relational autonomy and the normative impact of those relations on individual decision-making. By considering a case study proposed by early feminist bioethicist Anne Donchin and modifying it to fit the DTC landscape, I show that anonymous relationships, as well as concrete interpersonal ones, bear relevantly on feminist understandings of agency and responsibility.
Mercer Gary, Forrest S. Crawford Fellow in the Rock Ethics Institute and PhD Candidate in Philosophy and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
This event is open to the public. To attend, please send a request for the Zoom link to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on the day of the event.