Volume 3, 2018
Conceptions of Personal Responsibility in Present and Future Bioethics
There is much discussion about individual responsibility in bioethics, especially in the context of health care distribution. Despite some different views, the majority of literature seems to admit that there are limits to individual responsibility, because of environmental factors, including ecological, physical, social and societal issues and epigenetics that affect a person’s health and well-being and her ability to control her life and make genuine choices. However, when the discussion comes to health care in the future and new genetic technologies, environmental issues seem to be forgotten. The issues concerning health and well-being are reduced to genetics and choices about genetics, as if the present environmental effects through epigenetics and societal issues would be diminished. It appears that a person’s ability to control her life would somehow be remarkably increased. This notion is a fallacy, because - despite new genetic technologies - the environment will continue to affect a person’s life both at a molecular and societal level. The environmental issues should be acknowledged also in scenarios of the future, for -otherwise- the discussion about individual responsibility will lead to a questionable direction and the most efficient means for improving health and well-being will be undermined.