A precautionary principle for dual use research in the life sciences

Bioethics 25 (1):1-8 (2011)
Abstract
Most life science research entails dual-use complexity and may be misused for harmful purposes, e.g. biological weapons. The Precautionary Principle applies to special problems characterized by complexity in the relationship between human activities and their consequences. This article examines whether the principle, so far mainly used in environmental and public health issues, is applicable and suitable to the field of dual-use life science research. Four central elements of the principle are examined: threat, uncertainty, prescription and action. Although charges against the principle exist – for example that it stifles scientific development, lacks practical applicability and is poorly defined and vague – the analysis concludes that a Precautionary Principle is applicable to the field. Certain factors such as credibility of the threat, availability of information, clear prescriptive demands on responsibility and directives on how to act, determine the suitability and success of a Precautionary Principle. Moreover, policy-makers and researchers share a responsibility for providing and seeking information about potential sources of harm. A central conclusion is that the principle is meaningful and useful if applied as a context-dependent moral principle and allowed flexibility in its practical use. The principle may then inspire awareness-raising and the establishment of practical routines which appropriately reflect the fact that life science research may be misused for harmful purposes
Keywords life science research  precautionary principle  responsibility  dual use  biological weapons
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2009.01740.x
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 26,627
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Four Themes in Recent Swedish Bioethics Debates.Gert Helgesson & Stefan Eriksson - 2011 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 20 (3):409-417.
Dual Use Research: Investigation Across Multiple Science Disciplines.Shannon Oltmann - 2015 - Science and Engineering Ethics 21 (2):327-341.
The Concept of Governance in Dual-Use Research.Alex Dubov - 2014 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 17 (3):447-457.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Future Technologies, Dystopic Futures and the Precautionary Principle.Steve Clarke - 2005 - Ethics and Information Technology 7 (3):121-126.
A Core Precautionary Principle.Stephen M. Gardiner - 2006 - Journal of Political Philosophy 14 (1):33–60.
How Not to Criticize the Precautionary Principle.Jonathan Hughes - 2006 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 31 (5):447 – 464.
The Precautionary Principle in Nanotechnology.James Moor - 2006 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 20 (2):191-204.
Is the Precautionary Principle Unscientific?B. D. - 2003 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 34 (2):329-344.
Formulating the Precautionary Principle.Neil A. Manson - 2002 - Environmental Ethics 24 (3):263-274.

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-07-09

Total downloads

24 ( #208,368 of 2,157,998 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #359,001 of 2,157,998 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums