Genetic parenthood and causation: An objection to Douglas and Devolder’s modified direct proportionate genetic descent account

Bioethics 33 (9):1085-1090 (2019)
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In a recent publication Tom Douglas and Katrien Devolder have proposed a new account of genetic parenthood, building on the work of Heidi Mertes. Douglas and Devolder’s account aims to solve, among other things, the question of who are the genetic parents of an individual created through somatic cell nuclear transfer (i.e. cloning): (a) the nuclear DNA provider or (b) the progenitors of the nuclear DNA provider. Such a question cannot be answered by simply appealing to the folk account of genetic parenthood, according to which the genetic parents of an individual are those individuals who produced the egg and sperm, respectively, which fused to create the embryo. It cannot be so as in cloning there is no fertilization as such. In this article I critically examine Douglas and Devolder’s new account of genetic parenthood and demonstrate that it is vulnerable to counterexamples that exploit the lack of a condition specifying that genetic parents should cause a child’s coming into existence.
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