Introduction to Part II

in The freedom of scientific research
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Introduction to Part II Simona Giordano Part II of this volume focuses on the regulation of science. Particularly with regard to science that directly affects or uses human materials (tissues and cells) or human beings (not only fully conscious humans, but also embryos, foetuses or humans without higher brain functions, or in persistent vegetative states, or minimally conscious human beings), two types of concerns are frequently raised. The first is that scientists may misuse the materials, or mistreat the research subjects – even those who may be unable to suffer may still, according to some views at least, have their dignity eroded or violated. Some see in human life – any human life, including human biospecimens, such as tissues or cells – something that bears an intrinsic dignity or value, and from this perspective utilising these materials is inherently suspicious, no matter what the expected societal benefits might be. The fact that some forms of research may yield significant financial rewards (e.g. for pharmaceutical companies) may raise further worries. And the fact that even a tissue or a cell can reveal information that may be significant in different contexts and for different people (in forensics for example, or for genetic relatives) raises important questions about how different interests may be or should be balanced. The second, somehow contrary concern, is that stifling regulation might be shaped by political norms, or by ideologies that might either be dominant or, even if not dominant numerically, powerful enough to skew public opinion and political...

The freedom of scientific research

Bridging the gap between science and society

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