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The New Worlds of Synthetic Biology
Citation key 145.2016.Engelhard
Author Engelhard, M., and Boelker, M., and Budisa, N., and Winter, G.
Pages 1-25
Year 2016
ISBN 978-3-319-25143-1
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-25145-5_1
Journal Synthetic Biology Analyzed
Volume 44
Editor Margret Engelhard
Publisher Springer International Publishing
Series Ethics of Science and Technology Assessment
Abstract Synthetic biology is a young and heterogeneous field that is constantly on the move. This makes societal evaluation of synthetic biology a challenging task and prone to misunderstandings. Confusions arise not only on the level of what part of synthetic biology the discussion is on, but also on the level of the underlying concepts in use: concepts, for example, of life or artificiality. Instead of directly reviewing the field as a whole, in the first step we therefore focus on characteristic features of synthetic biology that are relevant to the societal discussion. Some of these features apply only to parts of synthetic biology, whereas others might be relevant for synthetic biology as a whole. In the next step we evaluate these new features with respect to the different areas of synthetic biology: do we have the right words and categories to talk about these new features? In the third step we scrutinize traditional concepts like “life” and “artificiality” with regard to their discriminatory power. Lastly, we utilize this refined view for ethical evaluation, risk assessment, analysis of public perception and legal evaluation. This approach will help to differentiate the discussion on synthetic biology. By this we will come to terms with the societal impact of synthetic biology.
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