The Indignity of Abstraction: Datamining and Autonomy in the Age of Direct To Consumer Genomics

Bruce Baer Arnold, Wendy Bonython

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Direct-to-consumer genomics services such as 23AndMe and promise to foster medical research and deepen personal connections through sharing information about the human genome. This article contextualises those promises by asking questions about dignity, the services, and the legal frameworks in which they operate — which are predicated on abstracting people as sets of genetic data. The commonality of that data among biological relatives means that individuals who gift a service with data about themselves are disregarding the autonomy of relatives who might not want to be genetically datamined. Law about such genomics should acknowledge Kant’s wariness about abstracting people as a means to an end.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-160
Number of pages22
JournalGriffith Journal of Law and Human Dignity
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


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