Bioethics Blogs

Epigenetics and Society: Potential, Expectations and Criticisms – A Special Issue of New Genetics and Society by Francis Mckay

Hi all, Part 1 of this month’s In the Journals Roundup has already been posted here. Part 2 will be coming soon. In addition, you can find below a special issue of New Genetics and Society on the topic of “Epigenetics and Society: Potential, Expectations and Criticisms”.

Epigenetics for the social sciences: justice, embodiment, and inheritance in the postgenomic age
Maurizio Meloni

In this paper, I firstly situate the current rise of interest in epigenetics in the broader history of attempts to go “beyond the gene” in twentieth-century biology. In the second part, after a summary of the main differences between epigenetic and genetic mutations, I consider what kind of implications the sui generis features of epigenetic mutations may have for the social sciences. I focus in particular on two sites of investigation: (a) the blurring of the boundaries between natural and social inequalities in theories of justice and their possible implications for public policy and public health and (b) a deepening of the notion that the constitution of the body is deeply dependent on its material and socially shaped surroundings (“embodied constructivism”). In conclusion, I advance some cautionary reflections on some of the (known and unprecedented) problems that the circulation of epigenetics in wider society may present.

How the genome got a life span
Martine Lappé & Hannah Landecker

In the space of little more than a decade, ideas of the human genome have shifted significantly, with the emergence of the notion that the genome of an individual changes with development, age, disease, environmental inputs, and time.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.