Utilitarianism and DNA
DNA patents are one of the most controversial topics among philosophers in terms of ethics and morality. One of the most important views in ethics is the Utility Principle that states that it is the utility, or happiness, of an act is what determines its morality. According to the author, “the utilitarian argument is the strongest argument for DNA patenting” (Chapter 4, pg. 66). It is essential to examine both the pros and cons for DNA patents in order to fully assess the role that they play within our society. In this essay I will examine how utility can be argued for and against DNA patents and explain why having patents on DNA is essential for today’s modern age.
DNA patents benefit society in many ways, especially…show more content… To begin, drug and research companies require huge sums of money in order to fund their research (Chapter 4, pg. 67). If they receive DNA patents as incentives to create better drugs, shouldn’t their research be accessible to the consumers? Since the NIH spends roughly $30 billion annually, shouldn’t we the taxpayers receive the drugs they develop at an affordable price? Unfortunately, this is not the case because drug companies invest so much money that in order to make it back, they must sell their products at very expensive prices. Such was the case for the BRCA1 and BRCA 2 that cost consumers an average of three thousand dollars per test. The utilitarian would argue that this would be morally unacceptable because it prevents a large number of people from even having access to the test. Furthermore, it is unethical because it is technically publicly funded through the NIH, yet they are forcing consumers to such high amounts. This means that it has low utility and creates more problems for society rather than solving any. Another argument against DNA patents is that they allow for private companies to have patented information about you. Why is it morally acceptable for these companies to profit off you when that information exists naturally? Thanks to the Supreme Court decision the patent no longer applies which should pave the way for cheaper and more accessible tests. However, it is important to discuss the fact that these tests would not even existed if it were not for DNA patents. The utilitarian argument for DNA patenting being wrong is fatally flawed. As was discussed in class, the conclusions that are drawn are from flawed logic. For example, if we assume that DNA patenting is morally wrong, we have to make the argument that a utilitarian would agree that anything that reduces utility is