Bioethics Forum Essay
A Narrow Path for Optimism that Social Genomics Can Combat Inequality
In his recent piece, “The genes we’re dealt,” Erik Parens puts his finger on cause for concern with what he calls social genomics: while progressives can use insights from this new field to justify combating inequality, conservatives can use them to justify the existence of that same inequality. This pessimistic conclusion—which Parens argues convincingly for—follows from a focus on insights at the societal level, that of a whole population. But there are grounds for optimism by focusing instead on potential insights from social genomics derived from local-level comparisons between different environments. Such insights could point to interventions that progressives and conservatives might just be able to agree on.