Implications of synthetic biology research and development: a structured ethical analysis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


An Ethical Matrix approach is employed to systematically analyze the moral status of research and development in synthetic biology (synbio). In this structured method, the relevant parties whose interests command ethical respect are coordinated with the relevant ethical factors corresponding to a triplet of ethical principles, namely well-being, autonomy, and fairness, for reaching an ethical judgment based on pluralistic considerations. The Ethical Matrix analysis indicates that while synbio has the potential to lead to harm through accidents or deliberate abuse, this emergent area of biotechnology provides great promise for the advancement of humanity, with the benefits heavily outweighing the downsides. It is concluded that it would be objectionable on ethical grounds to thwart or postpone the foreseen benefits of synbio through a reflexively precautionary stance, and society ought to positively support synbio research and development.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew frontiers and applications of synthetic biology
EditorsVijai Singh
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherAcademic Press/Elsevier
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780323859868
ISBN (Print)9780128244692
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2022


  • Autonomy
  • Fairness
  • Nonmaleficence
  • Principlism
  • Synthetic biology
  • Well-being


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