Luck, Genes, and Equality

35 J.L. MED. & ETHICS 712 (2007)

16 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2009 Last revised: 19 Mar 2015

See all articles by Dov Fox

Dov Fox

University of San Diego: School of Law

Date Written: August 2, 2012


Growing powers of genetic control dislodge a basic assumption of distributive justice: that social and economic goods should be distributed among people with the fixed biological inequalities given by the natural lottery. This Article explores how an egalitarian society should allocate access to genetic advantages. I develop and critically analyze principles of genetic equality, genetic priority, genetic lottery, and a genetic decent minimum.

The Article begins by providing practical and normative reasons to expand the domain within which the striving for justice is morally relevant to the hereditary basis of certain traits. I argue that the currency of genetic redistribution consists in general-purpose traits like health, vision, and intelligence, as these goods contribute to the biological component of basic capabilities, like being healthy, seeing properly, and being able to reason.

Keywords: reproductive genetics, distributive justice, luck egalitarianism, prioritarianism, sufficientarianism

JEL Classification: D63, I31, I18, H23, G38, D61

Suggested Citation

Fox, Dov, Luck, Genes, and Equality (August 2, 2012). 35 J.L. MED. & ETHICS 712 (2007). Available at SSRN:

Dov Fox (Contact Author)

University of San Diego: School of Law ( email )

5998 Alcalá Park
San Diego, CA 92110
United States
(619) 260-4600 (Phone)

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