The complicated relationship between genetic relatedness, the family, and the state

May 8, 2020
Department of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, Umeå University, Sweden


This will be an accessible event, including organized related activities


De Montfort University


Lund University
Umeå University

Topic areas

Talks at this conference

Add a talk


The question of the meaning of genetic relatedness for family connections has divided public opinion, moral philosophers, legal scholars, and others, for a long time. The state is not immune to this question, and genetic relatedness is one of the dimensions (and sometimes the only dimension) that states consider when legislating on which relationships should be legally recognised and in what way. Some states aim to identify genetic fathers and assign parental responsibility to them: especially when children are born outside marriage. When children conceived via in vitro fertilisation are born to the ‘wrong’ parents (for example, because of a mistake at the fertility clinic), they may be removed and allocated to their ‘rightful’, genetic parents. Some states use or plan to use DNA testing to verify family connections for immigration purposes. In the US, commercial DNA testing companies offered testing kits to help reunite parents with children from whom they were separated at the border. While such testing can be a useful tool to help reunite or keep families together, it can also have adverse consequences when, for example, the genetic and the declared relation fail to align, in which case the family may not be recognised as such for legal purposes. We welcome contributions addressing questions at the intersection between genetic relatedness, family connections, and state recognition. In particular, we welcome normative approaches to these questions, including, but not limited to: what is the normative relation between genetic connections and family membership? Are states justified in requesting genetic testing to verify family relations? What role should the gender of the parents play in these decisions – if any? How (if at all) should genetic connections be acknowledged when they do not align with legally recognised family relations? Among all the parties involved, how should decisions about who the members of a family are, be taken – and who should take them? Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words (excluding references), and be accompanied by a short bio (max. 10 lines). These should be sent by January 31, 2020 to the organisers.  

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)




April 1, 2020, 5:00am CET

RSVP below

Who is attending?

No one has said they will attend yet.

1 person may be attending:

Ainsley Newson

See all

Will you attend this event?

Let us know so we can notify you of any change of plan.