Polygene Risk Scores

A Philosophical Exploration


  • James Woodward Emeritus, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1826-0735
  • Kenneth Kendler Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8689-6570




Polygene risk scores, genetic causation


This paper explores the interpretation and use of polygenic risk scores (PRSs). We argue that PRSs generally do not directly embody causal information. Nonetheless, they can assist us in tracking other causal relationships concerning genetic effects. Although their purely  predictive/correlational use is important, it is this tracking feature that contributes to their potential usefulness in other applications, such as genetic dissection, and their use as controls, which allow us, indirectly, to "see" more clearly the role of environmental variables.


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How to Cite

Woodward, J., & Kendler, K. (2023). Polygene Risk Scores: A Philosophical Exploration. Philosophy of Medicine, 4(1). https://doi.org/10.5195/pom.2023.156



Original Research Articles (biomedical science)