Regulation and ethics aren’t the same thing. But when done properly, good regulation is rooted in good ethical reasons. If we want to think in a constructive way about existing or potential regulations, we need to consider the values and principles we think those regulations ought to embody.
Here’s a ‘point of view’ piece I wrote on that topic, for the current issue of Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, called “Justifying Regulation of DTC Tests.”
The Food and Drug Administration recently signaled, in no uncertain terms, its intention to regulate the provision of direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing….
But if we really want to understand the “big picture,” the full ethical context within which to situate the question of regulating DTC genetic tests, it’s worth considering the way in which the ethical justification of regulation is rooted in the ethical justification of market behavior more generally.
We generally think that people ought to be free to buy and sell according to their own needs, interests, and preferences. This implies a freedom to conduct exchanges in a relatively self-centered (or profit-seeking) way. But it’s worth considering what the ethical underpinning is for that freedom….