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Durham e-Theses
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A Christian theological response to human gene patenting

Wee, Edmund G.-T. (2005) A Christian theological response to human gene patenting. Unspecified thesis, Durham University.



The publication of the draft of the complete human genome is likely to prove to be one of the most significant breakthroughs for the medical sciences in this millennium because of the potential information it will yield. Patenting of human genetic material is permissible if these are can be shown to meet the four standard criteria applicable to all patents, which are that they are novel, involve an inventive step, are non-obvious and possess an industrial application. This dissertation addresses the main theological issue concerning patents, which is property as well as the ownership and use of such. It is argued that in the Bible, though a well-defined scriptural doctrine of property is absent, the right to property is tenable provided that it is in principle subordinate to the obligation to care for the weaker members of society. Property, in that regard, is to be used in fulfilment of the common good. I show that patenting human DNA can lead to injustice and therefore does not serve the common good. As this is contrary to the Christian theological understanding of the objective of property, I advocate that the correct response is to reject the practice. As a second line of argument, I also argue that because of its bi-elemental non-dual nature, human DNA is a metonymy for the human person since both possess a material and an immaterial component. These components are nonetheless inseparable without altering the overall nature of the DNA or the person. In this sense, human DNA is symbolic of the human person and on this account also should not be subjects of patents.

Item Type:Thesis (Unspecified)
Thesis Date:2005
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Sep 2011 09:54

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