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Ethical Issues and Reflection of the Synthetic Biology

Author: YaoLin
Tutor: MaoXinZhi
School: Wuhan University of Technology
Course: Philosophy of Science and Technology
Keywords: Synthetic biology ethic reflection
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2013
Downloads: 23
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Synthetic biology is an emerging technology which developes rapidly in recent years after its inception.Although synthetic biology is still in its basic research stage,it has been applied in some fields as health care,the environment,energy and so on.With the continuous development of synthetic biology,its brilliant future is slowly approached our lives.Howeverjust like other high-tech technologies,when synthetic biology brings benefits,it is raising some ethical issues,such as security,intellectual property rights,social justice and so on.These issues affect our lives values,affect the entire community development,and it is worthy of our attention and reflection.The first chapter mainly deals with the concept and status of synthetic biology and reviews relevant researches both at home and abroad.In addition,the author also introduces the aims and significance of synthetic biology in this article.Then the author steps onto the introduction to the application of synthetic biology in reality.In the article,the author points out that this high techniques will play significant role in curing diseases,producing biological energy source,reduce pollutions and establishing calculating amounts of microorganism.What’s more,it will also have a positive effect on the social development.The third chapter serves as the main body where the author will discuss ethnic issues we may come across while studying synthetic biology.First,the security of ethical issues.Security is the essential problem in the process of technological development. One of the main potential security risks of synthetic biology is the unpredictable risk to environment and public health aroused by the interaction of the synthetic microorganisms and its environment,and other organisms.The other is it exploited by criminals to harm the society.Second,the ethical issues of intellectual property.The main problem of intellectual property is that the name range of intellectual property is hard to be defined.If the range is too broad,it may limit collaborations and then inhibit its development; if it is too narrow,it will make the research process more complicated.So,how to achieve a balance between them has became an issue which need to be resolved during the development of synthetic biology.Third,the ethical issues of social justice.Social justice issues related to synthetic biology,mainly refer to two aspects:one is the equitable distribution of benefits; the other is the equitable distribution of risks.Equitable distribution of benefits refers to synthetic biology are controlled by developed countries,which makes harm to the interests of developing countries.Equitable distribution of benefits refers to the risks may be confronted by researchers,laboratory workers,the subjects and the public.Fourth,the ethical issue about synthetic life is natural or unnatural? This paper argues that synthetic biology either is natural or unnatural.With the continuous transformation between nature and human being,there is no pure nature things.While,synthetic biology is not completely "unnatural",and it is consistent with human’s inevitable development trend.The third chapter mainly deals with the ethical reflection of synthetic biology.lt starts from two points of view.One is from the perspective of life.What is life and what is the nature of life? Should life be synthesized? Does the synthesis break the ethecial principle of respecting life? On a personal note,all creatures have their own dignity and should be respected.However,it certainly does not mean that we should be against the technical development.In other words,It is the constant development of techniques that enables us to explore deeper into the essence of nature and lives.Only by better understanding the nature of lives can we conscientiously maintain its dignity.The other is from the perspective of evolutionary.The biological evolution of Synthetic biology is not a natural selected self-evolution,but a targeted and controlled evolution.This evolutionary process is completely "reverse evolution" or "smooth evolution"? In the author’s view,With the development of synthetic biology,we can choose to reserve those beneficial ones,saving thousands of years.This cannot be called countercurrent but the acceleration of evolution.Finally,this thesis proposes to establish a scientific ethics-policy framework with suggestions.Based on the ethical problems existed in the development process of synthetic biology,this thesis argues to make specific mandatory legislation and establish effective ethical review evaluation mechanisms.

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