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Additional info for Biotechnology, Security and the Search for Limits: An Inquiry into Research and Methods

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It is possible to question the adequacy of this way of thinking. 75 A variety of theoretical and empirical points were made to cast doubt on the suitability of the logic of weighing risks and benefits in the manner commonly suggested. While advances in knowledge and possible applications from research might be identified, substantiating the perils that might follow and the security benefits of constraints would be much more challenging since little appreciation existed about how research would be taken forward for malevolent ends.

21 In examining the contingent processes whereby threats from research are identified as a problem that needs addressing, this section outlines key emerging issues between 9/11 and the publication of the Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism report. As noted previously, much of the initial policy attention in the United States after 9/11 and the anthrax letter attacks in 2001 centered on strengthening the physical containment of pathogens and the vetting of personnel working with dangerous ‘select’ agents.

Lvarez made the case that social scientists: have a right, and perhaps even an obligation, to be participants in the process of identifying what constitutes a social problem, proposing remedies, as well as in evaluating societal responses and results. But we also recognize that our contributions to the creation of knowledge about social problems, as well as its use to induce social change, are, themselves, a moral enterprise. 89 Concluding remarks Whatever position one takes on the novelty or severity of dangers from life science research, questions are being asked in science policy circles about the direction and control of research with an intensity that was not there in the past.

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