Understanding Responses to the Environmental and Ethical Aspects of Innovative Technologies: The Case of Synthetic Biology in Europe

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEnvironmental Sociology
Subtitle of host publicationEuropean Perspectives and Interdisciplinary Challenges
EditorsMatthias Gross, Harald Heinrichs
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherSpringer
Pages97-108
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)978-90-481-8729-4, 978-90-481-8730-0
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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