A New Use of ‘Race’: The Evidence and Ethics of Forensic DNA Ancestry Profiling

Journal of Applied Philosophy 31 (3):237-253 (2014)
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Recent advances in population genetics have made it possible to infer an individual's ancestral origin with a high degree of reliability, giving rise to the new technology called ‘DNA Ancestry Profiling’. Bioethicists have raised concerns over using this technology within a forensic context, many of which stem from issues concerning race. In this article, I offer some reasons why we ought to allow forensic scientists to use DNA Ancestry Profiling to infer the race or ethnicity of perpetrators — on a particular understanding of race or ethnicity — in at least some cases. First, there is reason to think the process will meet our evidential standards in many cases. Second, the technology has serious prospects for improving racial justice. Third, the ethical concerns that have been raised can be addressed. And last, using Forensic DNA Ancestry Profiling to infer race or ethnicity has many benefits over its successor technology known as Molecular Photofitting. I conclude the essay by sketching the empirical work that remains to be done



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Matthew Kopec
Harvard University

Citations of this work

The Value of Applied Philosophy.Suzanne Uniacke - 2016 - In Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen, Kimberley Brownlee & David Coady (eds.), A Companion to Applied Philosophy. Malden, MA: Wiley.

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References found in this work

Social construction and the concept of race.Edouard Machery & Luc Faucher - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (5):1208-1219.
Race and racial cognition.Daniel Kelly, Edouard Machery & Ron Mallon - 2010 - In John M. Doris (ed.), Moral Psychology Handbook. Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
The concept of race in medicine.Robin O. Andreasen - 2008 - In Michael Ruse (ed.), The Oxford handbook of philosophy of biology. New York: Oxford University Press.
About Face: Forensic Genetic Testing for Race and Visible Traits.Pilar N. Ossorio - 2006 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 34 (2):277-292.

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