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Synthetic biology, deontology and synthetic bioethics

Attfield, Robin 2012. Synthetic biology, deontology and synthetic bioethics. Ethics, Policy and Environment 15 (1) , pp. 29-32. 10.1080/21550085.2012.672681

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Paul Thompson argues that current synthetic biology amounts to synthetic genomics, comprising a ‘platform’ technology, and that Christopher Preston's deontological objections based on its supposed rejection of the historical process of evolution miscarry. This makes it surprising that Thompson's normative ethic consists in a deontological appeal to Kantian duties of imperfect obligation. Construed as obligations subject to choice, such constraints risk being excessively malleable where the ethical objections to deployment of this technology concern land rights and/or exploitation. Thompson's advocacy of processes ‘more beneficial’ (to poor people) well illustrates another vulnerability; processes more beneficial than ones that undermine livelihoods could be best avoided themselves, although ones more beneficial than the status quo may not. He well argues that non-deontological arguments should not be confined to human survival, but neglects stances that are either biocentric, consequentialist, or both. Yet a truly synthetic bioethics would be likely to embody these characteristics.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge): SSH Titles
ISSN: 2155-0085
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2018 16:37

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