Using the case of recent concern in Europe and elsewhere over the possible societal and environmental implications of synthetic biology, this chapter examines how claims about the implications of innovative techniques and procedures are typically made. The analysis suggests that claims are characteristically couched in terms of a dualism: what is factually possible and what is ethically desirable. Use of this is/ought dualism serves both to reproduce the division of labour between natural scientific knowledge of what is and ethical knowledge of what should be and to indicate that, between them, science and ethics exhaust all the knowledge that is relevant to the assessment of innovations. The analysis goes on to show that this two-fold classification is inadequate and that using this two-fold approach has tended to limit the kinds of question about societal and environmental implications that get to be asked officially. In conclusion, the chapter returns to the case of synthetic biology, highlighting issues that have tended to be overlooked because of the dominance of the dichotomous model.
|Title of host publication||Environmental Sociology|
|Subtitle of host publication||European Perspectives and Interdisciplinary Challenges|
|Editors||Matthias Gross, Harald Heinrichs|
|Place of Publication||Berlin|
|Number of pages||12|
|ISBN (Print)||978-90-481-8729-4, 978-90-481-8730-0|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|