Marianne Boenink
University of Twente
Although it is now generally acknowledged that new biomedical technologies often produce new definitions and sometimes even new concepts of disease, this observation is rarely used in research that anticipates potential ethical issues in emerging technologies. This article argues that it is useful to start with an analysis of implied concepts of disease when anticipating ethical issues of biomedical technologies. It shows, moreover, that it is possible to do so at an early stage, i.e. when a technology is only just emerging. The specific case analysed here is that of ‘molecular medicine’. This group of emerging technologies combines a ‘cascade model’ of disease processes with a ‘personal pattern’ model of bodily functioning. Whereas the ethical implications of the first are partly familiar from earlier—albeit controversial—forms of preventive and predictive medicine, those of the second are quite novel and potentially far-reaching
Keywords Concept of disease  Ethics  Emerging technology  Epistemology  Molecular medicine  Personalized medicine  Health technology assessment
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DOI 10.1007/s11019-009-9223-x
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