Abstract In a context of human demographic, technological and economic pressure on natural systems, we face some demanding challenges. We must decide 1) whether to “preserve” nature for its own sake or to “conserve” nature because nature is essentially a reservoir of goods that are functional to humanity’s wellbeing; 2) to choose ways of life that respect the biodiversity and evolutionary potential of the planet; and, to allow all this to come to fruition, 3) to clearly define the role of scientific expertise in a democratic society, recognizing the importance of biospheric equilibrium. In fact, in socio-scientific controversies, which are characterized by complex linkages between some life and environmental sciences objects and economic, political and ethical issues, a posture of transparent, impartial commitment is appearing, more and more, as a deontological necessity.
Keywords sustainable development  conservationism  preservationism  common good  social responsibilities of scientists  sustainability  controversial socio-scientific issues  dichotomy between facts and values  difference between theory and observation
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