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    ABSTRACT: The life sciences are increasingly being called on to produce "socially robust" knowledge that honors the social contract between science and society. This has resulted in the emergence of a number of "broad social issues" that reflect the ethical tensions in these social contracts. These issues are framed in a variety of ways around the world, evidenced by differences in regulations addressing them. It is important to question whether these variations are simply regulatory variations or in fact reflect a contextual approach to ethics that brings into question the existence of a system of "global scientific ethics". Nonetheless, within ethics education for scientists these broad social issues are often presented using this scheme of global ethics due to legacies of science ethics pedagogy. This paper suggests this may present barriers to fostering international discourse between communities of scientists, and may cause difficulties in harmonizing (and transporting) national regulations for the governance of these issues. Reinterpreting these variations according to how the content of ethical principles is attributed by communities is proposed as crucial for developing a robust international discourse. To illustrate this, the paper offers some empirical fieldwork data that considers how the concept of dual-use (as a broad social issue) was discussed within African and UK laboratories. Demonstrating that African scientists reshaped the concept of dual-use according to their own research environmental pressures and ascribed alternative content to the principles that underpin it, suggests that the limitations of a "global scientific ethics" system for these issues cannot be ignored.
    Science and Engineering Ethics 09/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: This article considers the question of how to produce ecologically valid assessments of music's role as a health technology. To address this question, I consider critically some of the standard quantitative instruments used to assess well-being and quality of life. I suggest that these instruments do not lend themselves well to the production of ecologically valid assessments and understandings for two reasons: (1) the process of data elicitation is removed from everyday meanings and practices and therefore risks producing data that is an artifact of the situation in which it is elicited (2) standard, quantitative instruments are not neutral but are rather discursive texts that are inevitably imbued with a politics of expertise and an image of the health care client. For these reasons, I suggest that we consider the question of how to develop ecologically valid, client-centered assessment measures. To that end, I introduce a third critique of the standard quantitative instruments, namely that they are associated with, and promote, an ontology of wellness/illness that downplays the temporally variable and situationally emergent nature of both wellness/illness and musical interventions themselves. As an alternative mode of assessment, I suggest that we reconsider the value of singular case studies and I describe a set of principles that can assist researchers to produce ecologically valid assessments. To this end I introduce the concept of the musical event as a more ecologically valid means for illuminating the specific mechanisms by which music aids well-being. I suggest that the case study approach is temporally sensitive, that it lends itself to an emergent ontology of wellness/illness, and that it is client-centered (and can also be user-led).
    International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-Being 08/2013; 8:20611.
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    ABSTRACT: In recent years, states and non-governmental organizations have expressed concern about the humanitarian consequences of the category of technologies labelled 'explosive weapons', particularly in relation to their use in populated areas. This article seeks to outline the magnitude of these consequences as well as what can be done to reduce harms. In particular, it makes a case for how health approaches could help prevent the harms associated with this category of weapons. Attention is given to the types of evidence and argument that might be required to characterize explosive weapons. An overarching aim is to consider how alternative ways of understanding weapons and violence can create new opportunities for addressing harms from conflict.
    Social Science [?] Medicine 08/2012; 75(11):2047-54.
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    ABSTRACT: Cross-species comparison has long been regarded as a stepping-stone for medical research, enabling the discovery and testing of prospective treatments before they undergo clinical trial on humans. Post-genomic medicine has made cross-species comparison crucial in another respect: the 'community databases' developed to collect and disseminate data on model organisms are now often used as a template for the dissemination of data on humans and as a tool for comparing results of medical significance across the human-animal boundary. This paper identifies and discusses four key problems encountered by database curators when integrating human and non-human data within the same database: (1) picking criteria for what counts as reliable evidence, (2) selecting metadata, (3) standardising and describing research materials and (4) choosing nomenclature to classify data. An analysis of these hurdles reveals epistemic disagreement and controversies underlying cross-species comparisons, which in turn highlight important differences in the experimental cultures of biologists and clinicians trying to make sense of these data. By considering database development through the eyes of curators, this study casts new light on the complex conjunctions of biological and clinical practice, model organisms and human subjects, and material and virtual sources of evidence--thus emphasizing the fragmented, localized and inherently translational nature of biomedicine.
    Social Studies of Science 04/2012; 42(2):214-36.
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    ABSTRACT: Recognition of the widespread use of the word 'mechanism' in bio-molecular research has resulted in the concept of 'mechanism' becoming a focal point for a highly visible group of philosophers of biology. Rather, however, than grasping and elucidating the situated aims and practices of biologists themselves, the philosophical investigation of the contemporary meaning of mechanism in biology has been commandeered by the needs of 'hard naturalists' to replace the old deductive-nomological model of the 'received view' with a new normative-explanatory gold-standard. It is argued that rather than an orientation toward an increasingly precise characterization of mechanisms as being an ultimate end in biological research, in actual biological practice 'mechanism' means different things in different contexts, pragmatically draws on our embodied know-how in the use of machines and is not, nor should be, an ultimate end of biological research. Further, it is argued, that classic work on low-level mechanisms became taken up qualitatively as parts of the scaffolding for investigating higher level regulatory processes and that in so doing, and in light of new findings such as that of the regulatory significance of 'pleiomorphic ensembles' and 'intrinsically unstructured proteins' the explanatory limits of the mechanism image have already come into view.
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 03/2012; 43(1):164-72.
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    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 03/2012; 43(1):1-3.
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    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 03/2012; 43(1):88-91.
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    ABSTRACT: After showing that despite being inherently flawed the concept of dignity cannot be replaced without loss by ethical principles such as "respect for persons," it is argued that, if dignity be not understood as dignitas, but as bonitas, which emphasizes connectedness rather than excellence and to which the proper response is not respect, but awe, there is no reason not to ascribe it to the human embryo. The question whether or not human embryos have dignity can then be answered in the affirmative on the same pragmatist grounds that ultimately lead us to respect other human persons as possessors of dignity, that is, a special moral worth.
    Human reproduction and genetic ethics 01/2012; 17(1):53-65.
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    ABSTRACT: The dual-use potential of scientific research refers to the possibility that any beneficial scientific research may be misused for nefarious purposes by a third party. This potential within the life sciences has led to much discussion regarding ways to raise awareness and limit possible harm. The concept of a 'web of prevention' as a multifaceted system for addressing this potential for harm provides a comprehensive method of conceptualizing a system of controls in the life sciences. The web of prevention involves multiple stakeholders, from diverse backgrounds such as science, public health, security studies and governance. Research within the life sciences relies on a number of different structures, such as waste disposal and border controls, which provide a comprehensive environment for scientists to work in. The web of prevention relies on the assumption of these systems working to support any further initiatives that are proposed. Unfortunately, in many countries around the world, these systems are insufficiently addressed, which may raise ethical problems. Structural problems may undermine the web of prevention and alter the responsibilities attributed to the individual scientist within this system. Examples from sub-Saharan Africa illustrate two pertinent structural difficulties, and these are discussed in relation to ethical responsibilities.
    Medicine Conflict and Survival 01/2012; 28(1):19-30.
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    ABSTRACT: Clinical applications of biomedical research rely on specialist knowledge provided by professionals who straddle research and therapy, and possess both medical and scientific expertise. To date, this professional group remains under-explored in sociology. Our article presents a case study of clinician-scientists working in stem cell research for heart repair in the UK and Germany who are engaged in double-blind randomised clinical trials using patients' own stem cells. The analysis draws on sociological and medical literature, interviews and ethnographic fieldwork to analyse the experiences and self-rationalisations of a small number of clinician-scientists and the ways in which these professionals portray, explain and justify their role in the wider clinical research environment. We examine our participants' views on the clinical trials they conduct, the challenges they encounter and the ways through which they negotiate a complex disciplinary terrain, and argue that the recent clinical implementation of stem cell research brings clinician-scientists to the fore and provides a renewed platform for their professional legitimisation. The article helps increase our understanding of how randomised clinical trials are involved in consolidating the individual status of actors and the collective standing of clinician-scientists as leaders of change in translational medicine.
    Sociology of Health & Illness 08/2011; 34(4):497-512.
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