Synthetic biology: a utilitarian perspective

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Abstract

I examine the positive and negative features of synthetic biology (‘SynBio’) from a utilitarian ethical perspective. The potential beneficial outcomes from SynBio in the context of medicine are substantial; however it is not presently possible to predict precise outcomes due to the nascent state of the field. Potential negative outcomes from SynBio also exist, including iatrogenesis and bioterrorism; however it is not yet possible to quantify these risks. I argue that the application of a ‘precautionary’ approach to SynBio is ethically fraught, as is the notion that SynBio-associated knowledge ought to be restricted. I conclude that utilitarians ought to support a broadly laissez-faire stance in respect of SynBio.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-463
Number of pages11
JournalBioethics
Volume27
Issue number8
Early online date9 Sep 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

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Synthetic Biology
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Bioterrorism
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Smith, Kevin R. / Synthetic biology : a utilitarian perspective. In: Bioethics. 2013 ; Vol. 27, No. 8. pp. 453-463.
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Synthetic biology : a utilitarian perspective. / Smith, Kevin R.

In: Bioethics, Vol. 27, No. 8, 10.2013, p. 453-463.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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