Fundamental problems, ethics and responsible innovation in the design and engineering of synthetic-biological systems

A resident philosopher will work alongside synthetic biology researchers at BrisSynBio. This interdisciplinary project will examine what “responsible innovation” or “ethical science” means in practice as well as what fundamental philosophical questions are raised by the activities grouped together under the term “synthetic biology”. These questions include:

  • Can life be defined?
  • What is the relation between life and value?
  • What is the distinction between “natural and artificial”?
  • What is information?

...and many others. The project will explore how synthetic biology may shed light on some of these problems, but also how these questions inform the work of synthetic biologists and the attitudes of the public(s), policy makers and other stakeholders toward synthetic biology projects. In order to do this, the philosophers and social scientists working on the project will use a case-study approach that looks at the activities, findings and challenges facing individual projects within the centre as well as the work of the centre as a whole. 

Project lead: Professor Julie Kent (regulation, governance and sociological perspectives of health technologies, sociology of the body, and science policy)

Project team: Dr Darian Meacham (phenomenology, political philosophy, philosophy of nature, bioethics) 

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