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Ethical Analysis On National DNA Profiling

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Question:

Discuss about the Ethical Analysis on National DNA Profiling.
 
 

Answer:

Introduction:

The “DNA profiling” is the forensic method to get hold of individuals by their DNA characteristics. Here a string of DNA or “deoxyribonucleic acid” has been extracted from the cell in the body. It is them mixed with any “restricted enzyme”. This when processed has been revealing individual’s blueprint (Maguire et al., 2014).

The national “DNA database” is an important tool to fight against the crimes. The ethical dilemma regarding this is chosen here. Along with this, its benefits have been identified. The issues have been associated with possessing the “National DNA Profiling” (Wigan & Clarke, 2013).

The ACS or “Australian Computer Society” is the association for the professionals of “Information and Communications technology”. Its constitutions claim that its objectives have been to develop professional excellence in the field on IT or “Information Technology”.  This further promotes the evolution of the technological resources of “Information and Communication” in Australia (Ryan, 2015). The report has been prepared analyzing the nationwide profiling from the perspective of ethical philosophies and the “ACS code of ethics”.

Ethical dilemma:

The “ethical dilemma” refers the complicated situation involving in apparent psychological conflicts. This occurs among the moral imperatives. Here, obeying one result in the transgressing of another. The factors that cause such problems in the organization are the deficiency of integrity. Here the staffs never embrace the honesty and fairness in their workplace. The conflicts of interests take place as an employee acquires benefits of any business situation. This is done for personal profit rather than his organization’s interests. The employees are ought to deal with the pressures to continue his activities. He should help the organization to move towards success (Slade & Prinsloo, 2013). The personal temptations are also considered to make the easiest way out. At the end of the day, the employees are bound to face various dilemmas through their careers.

The organizations might deliver proper information and training to them in assisting them to go for proper decisions. Pressure from the management comes as the culture of various companies is different. Some of the organizations stress profits and outcomes above everything. In such scenario, the management goes blind eyed towards the ethical breaches. The mentality of such companies is like “the endings justify all the means”. The employees might get the hunger for attention. They might also be under financial pressure. They do not receive proper recognitions, at many times. The companies on the other hand might be reluctant in treating them. Here dilemmas occur which has been not only un-ethical but also illegal. Performing businesses with other organizations also produce scopes for breaches (Chabon et al., 2016). The pressure to retrieve the best deals or expenses from other businesses results in negotiating in poor faith to receive concession. This put the negotiators in difficult situations.  These situations have been hard for the employees to struggle with especially in those cases where they have been unaware of the official guidelines of the company.

 

Ethical analysis on having the “National DNA Profiling”:

The ethical dilemma identified for the current study has been around the DNS databases. They have been limited through their connections with criminology. It has been depending upon the specific crimes under the investigations. The ethical problems have been required to be taken into consideration if its profits are to be maximized with minimizing the loss.

One of the real-life cases where DNA profiling changed many things is described below:

 “Discovering innocence on Death Row”:

George Ryan the governor of Illinois applied for DNA tests for the series of deaths during 1998. It was found that thirteen out of twenty-five could have been exonerated by the outcomes. He put moratorium in the executions. The study recommended various methods to prevent the demise of innocent ones ("5 Real-Life Cases Where DNA Profiling Changed Everything", 2017).

The testing of DNA on the scenario of crime evidences has been considered conclusive in most cases. It is also known as the DNA testing, DNA typing and DNA fingerprinting. This has to be done from the growing tendency to utilize the “genetic testing” ("5 Real-Life Cases Where DNA Profiling Changed Everything", 2017). This analyzes the generic information of individuals. However, it has nothing to do with the “full genome sequencing”.

Utilitarianism, its rule and act-based forms:

The “utilitarianism” is one of the popular and influential theories on morality. It has been like the other types of consequentialism. The central idea of “utilitarianism” is that the consequences of actions rely on its effects. The rule utilitarianism is a type of that claims that any action can be considered “right” if it conforms to any rule leading to greatest benefit. The right or wrong consequences of any specific action is the function of exactitude of the rule. For the rule utilitarian, the rule’s correctness is indicated by the quantity of “good” brought by it as followed.

The “act utilitarianism” is another form of “utilitarianism”. It declares that the act could be morally correct as it creates minimum happiness as compared to other acts performed at that instance. Classical utilitarians have defined “happiness” as pleasure and absence of “sufferings”. It has been lying on the basis of the utility principles. It can de described well by the famous phrase of Bentham that states the “greatest good” for “greatest number” (Alon & Lehrer, 2017). The nature has put human civilization in two all-mighty masters. They are the pain and the pleasure. It has been over the human beings what they are choosing to go for.

The rapid development and advancement of the human “DNA Profiling” technique has created concerns on social control, surveillance and the medical privacy. Specifically, while adopting the technology by the agencies of law enforcements with the development of huge databases of profiles of DNA has created issues. There has been arguments regarding transpired regarding the appropriate opportunities of the databases (Mulgan, 2014). Queries has been arising about keeping the databases restricted to the violent offenders, arrested by police, every citizen or convicted offender in any kind. Concerns have been raised about the categories in the fitting of juveniles.

Utilitarian logic has dictated that bigger the size more useful the database becomes. The restrictions on the inclusiveness of the database have been carrying the ability to allow preventable crimes occurring potentially. The rights of the individuals discourse on opposite the side have been dictating few restrictions on databases. However, the “unconvicted” people have not merited inclusion to the databases.

 

Deontology, its rule and act-based forms:

The “deontological ethics” or simply “deontology” is the position of “normative ethics” judging the moral values of any action on the basis of rules. It could be further described as the “rule based ethics” or “obligation” or “duty” since the rule has been binding people on their duties. For a “deontologist”, the goodness or badness of any situation relies upon the consequences. For the “rightness” of a person, the “moral norm” has been there to conform it. The “deontological” ethics begin with the acknowledgement of the fact that the actions and their results have been independent of each other.

As followed by Kant, one of the principles of “deontology” has been that the human beings possess rationalistic quality differentiating them from the animals. Moreover, the human beings must be “ends-in-themselves” not the reason for end (Sacco et al., 2016). The making on decisions on the best for more people could turn horrible results for the minorities. The deontologists have been talking against that. This could be prevented by considering moral values of each person equally.

The rule based deontology said that the “categorical imperative” has been the founding stone of the moral obligations. It always acts on the rule that every person has been the “end-in-themselves”. The other principle behind this has been acting upon the applied university and for every person (Rousseau, 2013).  The universality and impartiality of the rule based deontology could be maintained if everybody follows the distinguished imperative. Everyone must be treated well as the similar rule applies to everyone universally.

In the act based deontology the analyzing of the circumstances of every person indicate the morally proper approach of action to be taken. Here the overriding duties are to be identified. The seven duties of prima facie suggested are the reparation, self-improvement, beneficence, fidelity, justice, gratitude and non- malfeasance. This weakens the impartiality and universality (Murphy, 2016).

Now, a statement arises, that claim that if one has nothing to hole up, there has been nothing to worry. Alternatively, it could be said that if anyone has something to be scared of, then might acquire reasons to withhold.  The statement searches for a justification for restricting the usage of the forensic “DNA Database” in fear. This statement has various deontological concerns. It alludes to the personal rights of privacy and autonomy. The individuals must be deciding about the adding of personal data in the databases.

Social Contract:

In the context of organizations, the “contractarianism” has been appealing to the businesses. The valuation of several moral factors has been involved by the decision making morally. The organizations must possess own legitimate aims to peruse.  The moral right especially in the case of human rights has been significant in maximum moral deliberations in the businesses. The primary belief of the contractarianism is the state of the nature. According to it, every human being has been self-interested. They could only survive by the social bonding. It motivates the moral behavior. Agreements are contractual on which the moral systems are developed among the individuals. The social contracts have been developed as the early hunters had formed groups (Mansell, 2015). Thus the customs of community were developed. Unwritten agreement took place. Thus the honesty leads to trust. Thus the social contract came into being for culture and community. Its advantages lie in more social cohesion. It proves that lying, cheating and stealing has not been ethical. It develops the ethical behavior norms. Ultimately better peace in mind is reached.

There has been a rising argument stating that the using of “DNA profiling” has infringed over the constitutional rights of the people to privacy. However, as claimed by various law officials, the benefits of the database have been giving the society to exceed individual’s rights. This dilemma could be easily identified with the “social contract”. According to the contract, every person must give up some rights for achieving overall security (Skyrms, 2014). The depriving of rights to the privacy of individual’s DNA could be considered to be one of those forfeited rights. The individuals must measure the benefits he has been gaining from the past and present or the future profile of the criminal’s DNA. It has been present in the database and the disadvantage has been having within themselves (Steverson, Rutherford & Buller, 2013). However, the disadvantages would be more significant than the advantages as the private organizations develop access to that database. Then, they might use the data for discriminatory means.

 

Character Based:

This is another standard to evaluate the moral behavior. Here the acquisition of good traits of character is searched for. It sets the criteria for development of characters for every person. This has been also aligned with cultural and spiritual influences. According to this approach, a virtuous person must perform ethical things intuitively (Peterson & Mueller, 2013). It has been agent-oriented lying on moral characters and development of the agent.  This ethical system has been flourished in those cultures where emphasis has been placed over the life of community than on individual’s responsibilities. In the western nations, emphasis has been placed on the vitality of individual’s rights and autonomy (Wright, 2015).

The “DNA bar-coding” is a promising method to identify people through every stages of life. A universal threshold of the values of the genetic distances differentiates taxonomic groups that cannot be identified. Alternatively, the approaches of DNA bar-coding are “character based” (Crossan et al., 2013). By this method, human beings could be identified by the presence or absence of distinct nucleotide substitutions or character states in the sequence of DNA. 

ACS code of ethics:

The essential property of any profession in Australia has been the requirement of the members to follow the “ACS code of ethics”. For the “Australian Computer Society” or ACS, their code has been established as the “code of professional conduct”. These rules applies to the members of ACS those has been working with DNA database in the sector of ICT or “Information and Communications” Technology (Leicester, 2016). It has found six central values of ethics with the requirements associated with the professional conducts. The society needs its members to follow the values. They must act with responsibilities. Their performance might include integrity in all professional dealing.   The code also has relevance to the legislation of professional standards in protecting DNA databases. As anyone fail to follow the rule, this has been regarded as the professional negligence. The code should be quoted through any expert witness. Then, assessment on the professional conduct is delivered. The inability to follow the code also results in disciplinary action taken by ACS.

ACS members are expected to uphold and propagate dignity, effectiveness and honor to be professional. Moreover, it entails to be the good citizen, and act under the law. The members must be conformance to some specific ACS values in protecting DNA databases. The first one is the “primacy of the interest of public” (Warren et al., 2016). The member should put the public interests above the business, sectional and personal interests. Secondly, quality of life is to be enhanced. Members are expected to intensify the quality of the life of the people affected by their work in improving DNA databases. Then, the members must be honest enough in representing their products, services, techniques and knowledge. Next, they should work with competence and diligence for the stakeholders.  Further, they should enhance both their own individual’s professional development and the staffs. Finally, the members are supposed to strengthen ACS’s integrity and bring respect of every member towards each other in protecting DNA databases (Burmeister, 2013).

 

Recommendations:

Some of the recommendations of having national “DNA database” are:

  • The kinds of the DNA profiles of “crime-related” stains could be included in the database, which has not been limited.
  • The number of people in a database who has been the donors of the stains should be as bigger as that financially possible.
  • The managers of the databases should develop criteria for involving the partial profiles of DNA. This would help to get an acceptable balance.
  • The profiles of DNA created by the previous commercial skills might be updated.
  • In order to develop the scopes to find relevant match with the partial crime stains, the DNA profiles could be preferentially loaded.
  • The database’s custodians must have regular contacts with their DNA profile suppliers for exchanging data regarding the technical and legal developments.
  • Let the DNA profiles created from the lower levels of DNA has been imported in the database. In such cases they must be recognizable with any near matched strategy.
  • Composite profiles of DNA could be developed from the profiles of DNA created from the similar extract of DNA (Galea, 2016).

Conclusion:

Every company should possess ethical policies spelling out the penalties due to infractions. The management should lead by setting examples. They must show that they have been taking the ethics seriously. The violators are to be punished with possible termination and suspension. DNA profiling is the small collection of variations of DNA. It has been very likely distinguishable in every other unrelated individuals. Thus is unique to every person like the fingerprints The DNA databases have raised critical issues regarding the human rights and their privacy. The safeguards have been required. DNA has been utilized to track the individuals and their relatives. Thus it could be easily misused by any individual or government in infiltration is done into the system. For effectively track any suspect, the records of DNA are to be clinked with other records in the computers. This includes the arrest record that might refuse VISA to anyone or provide job or discriminate against these people. The sample and profiles of DNA has the private information regarding genetic and physical relationships. This includes the paternity and the non-paternity. The effective protection includes the legal limitations on the situations where the DNA and its associated data could be gathered and retained. Lastly it should be reminded that DNA has not been a foolproof. Hence the methods also require to be put to assure the misleading interpretations of the proofs of DNA. This does not lead in the miscarriage of justice.

 

References:

5 Real-Life Cases Where DNA Profiling Changed Everything. (2017). The Forensic Outreach Library. Retrieved 26 April 2017, from https://forensicoutreach.com/library/5-real-life-cases-where-dna-profiling-changed-everything/

Alon, S., & Lehrer, E. (2017). Subjective Utilitarianism: Decisions in a social context.

Burmeister, O. K. (2013). Achieving the goal of a global computing code of ethics through an international-localisation hybrid. Ethical Space, 10(4), 25-32.

Chabon, J. J., Simmons, A. D., Lovejoy, A. F., Esfahani, M. S., Newman, A. M., Haringsma, H. J., ... & Harding, T. C. (2016). Circulating tumour DNA profiling reveals heterogeneity of EGFR inhibitor resistance mechanisms in lung cancer patients. Nature communications, 7.

Crossan, M., Mazutis, D., Seijts, G., & Gandz, J. (2013). Developing leadership character in business programs. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 12(2), 285-305.

Galea, D. (2016). The legality of DNA databases in the criminal investigation.

Leicester, N. (2016). Ethics in the IT Profession: Does a Code of Ethics have an Effect on Professional Behaviour?.

Maguire, C. N., McCallum, L. A., Storey, C., & Whitaker, J. P. (2014). Familial searching: A specialist forensic DNA profiling service utilising the National DNA Database® to identify unknown offenders via their relatives—The UK experience. Forensic Science International: Genetics, 8(1), 1-9.

Mansell, S. (2015). Book Review: Rejoinder to Veldman’s review of Capitalism, Corporations and the Social Contract: A Critique of Stakeholder Theory (Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 271-275). A. Pullen, & C. Rhodes (Eds.). Sage UK: London, England: Sage Publications.

Mulgan, T. (2014). Understanding utilitarianism. Routledge.

Murphy, S. P. (2016). Contemporary Philosophical Faces of Deontology and Consequentialism–John Rawls and Peter Singer. In Responsibility in an Interconnected World (pp. 61-87). Springer International Publishing.

Peterson, T., & Mueller, G. B. (2013). What is evolutionary novelty? Process versus character based definitions. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular and Developmental Evolution, 320(6), 345-350.

Rousseau, J. J. (2013). Ethics and deontology in public administration.

Ryan, A. (2015). 16. Utilitarianism and Bureaucracy: The Views of JS Mill.

Sacco, D. F., Brown, M., Lustgraaf, C. J., & Hugenberg, K. (2016). The Adaptive Utility of Deontology: Deontological Moral Decision-Making Fosters Perceptions of Trust and Likeability. Evolutionary Psychological Science, 1-8.

Skyrms, B. (2014). Evolution of the social contract. Cambridge University Press.

Slade, S., & Prinsloo, P. (2013). Learning analytics: Ethical issues and dilemmas. American Behavioral Scientist, 57(10), 1510-1529.

Steverson, B. K., Rutherford, M. W., & Buller, P. F. (2013). New venture legitimacy lies and ethics: an application of social contract theory. J. Eth. Entrep, 3, 73-92.

Warren, M., Warren, M., Lucas, R., & Lucas, R. (2016). Ethics and ICT: Why all the fuss?. Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, 14(2), 167-169.

Wigan, M. R., & Clarke, R. (2013). Big data's big unintended consequences. Computer, 46(6), 46-53.

Wright, T. A. (2015). Distinguished scholar invited essay: reflections on the role of character in business education and student leadership development. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 22(3), 253-264.

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