Deceitful Non-Disclosure And Misattributed Paternity

Madeline Kilty

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    Today DNA testing can tell us with a great deal of ease and accuracy who is genetically related to whom. As a result, increasing numbers of men are seeking paternity tests and discovering they have been deceived. When they discover they are not genetically related to a child, social1 fathers have a tendency to withdraw support for the child, including financial, physical and psychological support. Misattributed paternity2 creates a close relationship between a child and their social father, which is often severed when the truth becomes known, leaving children bewildered about their identity. Disclosure of misattributed paternity generates distrust, a lack of confidence, and, perhaps, most importantly, it could cause the break-up of the family. On the other hand, non-disclosure of misattributed paternity deprives a child of a factual identity and from forming a meaningful relationship with their genetic father and other siblings (should they have any) early in the child's life when identity formation is occurring. Furthermore, potential health issues may be importantly linked to genetic identity. This creates a moral dilemma, since deceitful non-disclosure of misattributed paternity deprives children of a number of important goods, it may be considered morally wrong and bad for them. Truthfulness, on the other hand, while seeming morally right and good for children, may also be harmful to them. This paper seeks to analyse some of the moral issues concerning misattributing paternity.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)132-144
    Number of pages13
    JournalAustralian Journal of Professional and Applied Ethics
    Issue number1 and 2
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

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