Do we need Berlin walls or chinese walls between research, public consultation, and advice? New public responsibilities for life scientists
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Academic Ethics 1 (4):385-395 (2003)
During the coming decades, life scientists will become involved more than ever in the public and private lives of patients and consumers, as health and food sciences shift from a collective approach towards individualization, from a curative to a preventive approach, and from being driven by desires rather than by technology. This means that the traditional relationships between the activities of life scientists – conducting research, advising industry, governments, and patients/consumers, consulting the public, and prescribing products, be it patents, drugs or food products, information, or advice – are getting blurred. Traditional concepts of the individual, role, task, and collective responsibility have to be revised. This paper argues, from a pragmatic point of view, that the concept of public responsibility can contribute considerably in delineating new gray zones between the various roles of the life scientist: conducting research for governments or industry, giving advice, prescribing and selling products, and doing public consultation. The main issues are where new Chinese walls (not Berlin walls) need to be built between these activities, thereby increasing trust between life scientists and the public at large, and how to organize research agendas and to decide upon research topics.
|Keywords||professional ethics public debates on science research ethics role and public responsibility|
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