VIRTUOUS INDECISIVENESS: Structural Moral Ambivalence and the Tentative Implementation of Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing in Japan

Tsipy Ivry, Maki Ogawa, Jun Murotsuki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Anthropological engagement with moralities and ethics assumes that people evaluate themselves and others according to their notions of good and bad; yet little is known about how people evaluate the quality of their deliberations. Such evaluations of the seriousness of ethical deliberations prevail in Japan’s genetic counseling for pregnant couples considering NIPT, a maternal blood test early in pregnancy that does not endanger the pregnancy but might lead to termination dilemmas. These deliberations are based on the idea that the ambivalence over whether to provide or undergo a potentially selective test is virtuous. This article examines how Japanese policymakers, medical professionals, genetic counselors, and pregnant couples make decisions within social settings that valorize indecisiveness. Ambivalence emerges as the cognitive skill of seeing complexity clearly. How people and their ethnographers evaluate the quality of ethical deliberations is essential to contemplate if we are to understand how people seek to lead a moral life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-197
Number of pages27
JournalCultural Anthropology
Volume38
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Keywords

  • Japan
  • ambivalence
  • ethicalization
  • genetic counseling
  • local moralities and ethics
  • prenatal diagnosis
  • reproductive decisions
  • virtue

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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