Science, Technology & Human Values

Published by SAGE Publications
Online ISSN: 0162-2439
Publications
Article
From a national U.S. sample of senior academic biochemists, ninety-four indicated that they personally knew of an incident of scientific wrongdoing. Among these individuals, less formal actions against an offending individual were endorsed when either (I) actions were believed to have the potential to publicly embarrass the offending individual, or (2) the actions might adversely affect the professional career of the whistleblower. These relationships remain significant after controlling for professional status, career age, and current level of formal departmental administrative responsibility. Study limitations and implications are discussed.
 
Article
The rapid commercialization of applied genetics in the mtd-1970s, accompanied by a sudden rise in academic-corporate partnerships, raised questions about the impacts these linkages have had on the social and professional norms of scientists. The extent and pattern of faculty tnvolvement in commercialization of biological research is largely an unexplored area. This article provcdes a quantitative assessment of the linkages between biology faculty in American uncverscties and the newly formed biotechnology industry. The results of thes study, covering the period 1985-88, show that academic scientists responded en masse to participating in the commercialization of genetecs research by estabhshmg formal associations with many of the new biotechnology compances. A data base consisting of 889 U.S. and Canadian biotechnology companies and 832 sccentcsts who had formal ties to them was developed over a four-year period. The patterns of academic-corporate Icnkages are revealed by institution. Three universities with the most commercially active faculty are Harvard, Stanford, and MIT. Of the 359 bcomedeca! scientists and geneteccsts who were members of the Nateonal Academy of Sceences (en 1988), at minimum, 37% had formal ties with the biotechnology industry.
 
Article
This article considers how scientists involved in animal experimentation attempt to defend their practices. Interviews with over 40 scientists revealed that, over and above direct criticisms of the antivivisection lobby, scientists used a number of discursive strategies to demonstrate that critics of animal experimentation are ethically and epistemologically inferior to British scientific practitioners. The scientists portrayed a series of negative ''others'' such as foreign scientists, farmers, and pet owners. In this manner they attempted to create a ''socioethical domain'' which rhetorically insulated them from criticism while simultaneously problematizing the critiques of the anti-animal-experimentation public. Some of the implications for relations between science and the public, especially regarding scientific credibility, are discussed.
 
Article
This article explores the accounts of eugenics made by a small but important group of British scientists and clinicians working on the new genetics as applied to human health. These scientists and clinicians used special rhetorical strategies for distancing the new genetics from eugenics and to sustain their professional autonomy. They drew a number of boundaries or distinctions between eugenics and their own field, describing eugenics as politically distorted "bad science," as being technically unfeasible, a feature of totalitarian regimes, the abuse of neutral knowledge, and as the manipulation of the population's gene pool as opposed to diagnosing and treating individuals with genetic conditions. Their more sophisticated defense strategies invoked the importance of individual choice and the relationship between nature and nurture. The article highlights the ambiguities and difficulties in professionals' use of this rhetoric drawing on historical and sociological analyses of eugenics, genetics, and medical science and technology more broadly.
 
Article
This article reports original research examining characteristics of the active followers of the American animal rights movement. Typical respondents were Caucasian, highly educated urban professional women approximately thirty years old with a median income of $33,000 (1989). Most activists think of themselves as Democrats or as Independents, and have moderate to liberal political views. They were often suspicious of science and made no distinction between basic and applied science, or public versus private animal-based research. The research suggests that animal rights activism is part of a symbolic manifestation of egalitarian social and political views concerning scientific and technological change.
 
Article
In an unusual instance of lay participation in biomedical research, U.S. AIDS treatment activists have constituted themselves as credible participants in the process of knowledge construction, thereby bringing about changes in the epistemic practices of biomedical research. This article examines the mechanisms or tactics by which these lay activists have constructed their credibility in the eyes of AIDS researchers and government officials. It considers the implications of such interventions for the conduct of medical research; examines some of the ironies, tensions and limitations in the process; and argues for the importance of studying social movements that engage with expert knowledge.
 
Article
This survey of 430 recombinant DNA scientists currently engaged in research assesses the impact of public attention, political advocacy, and litigation on their work. The findings show that most researchers feel they have benefited from public attention to the field, but 34% feel they have been negatively affected. Sixty-one percent agree that as a result of litigation by activists, greater social responsibility on the part of scientists working in the field is required. Considerable concern is expressed regarding public ignorance, uninformed controversy, and the future impact of activist-inspired litigation, especially on the possible loss of the U.S. competitive edge. Recommendations are made for a public education campaign focused on priority-target audiences (i.e., regulatory decision makers, other scientists, members of the media, and environmentalists).
 
Article
About a decade ago, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL) unwittingly embarked on a transition from a technocratic model of science advising to the paradigm of "post-normal science" (PNS). In response to a scandal around uncertainty management in 1999, a Guidance for "Uncertainty Assessment and Communication" was developed with advice from the initiators of the PNS concept and was introduced in 2003. This was followed in 2007 by a "Stakeholder Participation" Guidance. In this article, the authors provide a combined insider/outsider perspective on the transition process. The authors assess the extent to which the PNS paradigm has delivered new approaches in the agency's practice and analyze two projects-on long-term options for Dutch sustainable development policy and for urban development policy-the latter in somewhat more detail. The authors identify several paradoxes PBL encounters when putting the PNS concept into practice. It is concluded that an openness to other styles of work than the technocratic model has become visible, but that the introduction of the PNS paradigm is still in its early stage.
 
Article
Many public debates become polarized, degenerating into a pattern of mutual suspicion and name-calling that preclude communication or compromise. The debate over animal research has typically followed this path. To understand how polarization might be avoided, we examine the factors that helped prevent it in one local controversy: Cambridge, Massachusetts in the late 1980s. These factors include the personal style of the leader of the main animal protection group, theJnancing for the group, the group's abiliiy to win a symbolic victory in the form of a relatively toothless city ordinance, and, especially, the relative avoidance by both sides of rigid ideological posturing in favor of "casuistic" argumentation about specijic cases and policies. Like many other public controversies, that over animal rights often degenerates into mutual suspicion and name-calling. In such a debate, each side typically perceives the other to be deceitful, if not evil, prompting the combatants to forsake communication, dialogue, negotiation, and compro- mise: the very activities upon which democracy depends. Because in Ameri- can politics this kind of polarization-with each side clinging to its own moral absolutes-is common yet costly, we need to understand the excep- tions in which opponents and politicians manage to work out compromise policies. Students of political conflict have been more interested in explaining escalation and polarization than the persistence of civility. The recent controversy over animal rights has featured a "clash of abso- lutes," to borrow Laurence Tribe's (1990) characterization of the abortion debate. Both sides refer to inviolable moral principles, or "god terms," that
 
Article
Two recent surveys of genetic engmeering scientists have assessed how scientists in the United States and in Europe view the influence of regulation and public attention on recombinant DNA research. Generally, European researchers are more negative about this issue: they feel that public attention has hampered progress in the field more than it has helped it. The probable cause for this difference is that European countries tend to have more—and more stringent—regulations on bioengineering than the United States, although there are also national differences in the climate for bioengineering research. On the other hand, scientists in the United States seem extremely concerned about competitiveness, especially relative to Japan.
 
Article
Bioethics and feminist scholarship has explored various justice implications of non-medical sex selection and family balancing. However, prospective users' viewpoints have been absent from the debate over the socially acceptable bounds of non-medical sex selection. This qualitative study provides a set of empirically-grounded perspectives on the moral values that underpin prospective users' conceptualizations of justice in the context of a family balancing program in the United States. The results indicate that couples pursuing family balancing understand justice primarily in individualist and familial terms rather than in terms of social justice for women and girls or for children resulting from sex selection. Study participants indicated that an individual's desire for gender balance in their family is ethically complex and may not be inherently sexist, immoral or socially consequential, particularly given the social context in which they live. Our findings suggest that the social conditions that contribute to prospective users' desires for gender balance in their families may direct them away from recognizing or engaging broader social justice concerns relating to sexism and stratified reproduction.
 
Article
The repertory grid method was used to determine what terminology respondents use to distinguish between different applications of genetic engineering drawn from food-related, agricultural, and medical applications. Respondents were asked to react to fifteen applications phrased in general terms, and results compared with a second study where fifteen more specific applications were used as stimuli. Both sets of data were submitted to generalized procrustes analysis. Applications associated with animals or human genetic material were described as causing ethical concern, being unnatural, harmful, and dangerous. Those involving plants or microorganisms were described as beneficial, progressive, and necessary. The results were validated in survey research, which indicated that general applications of genetic engineering were perceived as either positive or negative, whereas specific applications were more highly differentiated in perceptual terms. The results imply that the public debate about genetic engineering must take due account of the complexity of public concerns.
 
Article
The development of genomics has dramatically expanded the scope of genetic research, and collections of genetic biosamples have proliferated in countries with active genomics research programs. In this essay, we consider a particular kind of collection, national biobanks. National biobanks are often presented by advocates as an economic "resource" that will be used by both basic researchers and academic biologists, as well as by pharmaceutical diagnostic and clinical genomics companies. Although national biobanks have been the subject of intense interest in recent social science literature, most prior work on this topic focuses either on bioethical issues related to biobanks, such as the question of informed consent, or on the possibilities for scientific citizenship that they make possible. We emphasize, by contrast, the economic aspect of biobanks, focusing specifically on the way in which national biobanks create biovalue. Our emphasis on the economic aspect of biobanks allows us to recognize the importance of what we call clinical labor-that is, the regularized, embodied work that members of the national population are expected to perform in their role as biobank participants-in the creation of biovalue through biobanks. Moreover, it allows us to understand how the technical way in which national biobanks link clinical labor to databases alters both medical and popular understandings of risk for common diseases and conditions.
 
Article
Public bioethics bodies are used internationally as institutions with the declared aims of facilitating societal debate and providing policy advice in certain areas of scientific inquiry raising questions of values and legitimate science. In the United States, bioethical experts in these institutions use the language of consensus building to justify and define the outcome of the enterprise. However, the implications of public bioethics at science-policy boundaries are underexamined. Political interest in such bodies continues while their influence on societal consensus, public debate, and science policy remains ambiguous. This article presents a theoretical discussion of public bioethics bodies as boundary organizations and examines them in terms of relationship to the moral and cognitive authority of science and other forms of expertise, mechanisms for public participation in controversial science policy, and the deployment of consensus models. The theoretical discussion is examined in the case of the U.S. Human Embryo Research Panel.
 
Article
Development of the cochlear implant, discussed in this article, depended vitally on deaf people being persuaded to undergo implantation. Media ''reconstruction'' of the device as the ''bionic ear'' was typically encouraged by implant pioneers. Unexpectedly however a ''counter-rhetoric'' based on a very different understanding of deafness emerged. With it, deaf people are slowly succeeding in gaining influence over the further deployment of the technology. The analysis suggests modifications to existing theoretical models of technological change in medicine.
 
Article
This article explores the reasons women of diverse class, racial ethnic, national, and religious backgrounds give for their decisions not to accept an amniocentesis or, having accepted one, not to pursue an abortion after diagnosis of serious fetal disability. The narratives of refusers reveal conflicts and tensions between the universalizing rationality of biomedical interventions into pregnancy and the wider heterogeneous social framework to which women respond in their decision-making processes.
 
Article
This article examines the role of the Cambridge Experimentation Review Board (CERB) in the seven-month moratorium (July 1976-February 1977) on recombinant DNA research in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The article focuses on CERB's 23 November 1976 debate, which was the turning point in the committee's proceedings. Although CERB members were implicitly charged with making rational decisions, they were inevitably influenced by biases and emotions. In the process of justifying their decisions, however, they were almost exclusively concerned with appeals to reason. This article argues that appeals to emotion and authority are essential and inevitable components of reasonable (though not rational) decision making. It further argues that legitimizing these appeals in the process of justification will make such appeals more accessible to criticism during the process of construction and, thereby, will help us to define which appeals to emotion and authority are appropriate and which are inappropriate in any given context.
 
Article
This article focuses on a crucial development in genetic research that occurred in the 1990s: the identification of the first two of the genes responsible for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (BRCA1 and BRCA2). Issues addressed touch on the evolution of the subfield, its potential impact on cancer treatment, and industry involvement. The article follows the activities of the various research groups competing in the race to identify the genes and depicts the frequent conflicts between them. Data are derived chiefly from a bibliometric database. The results show a diversity of research practices. Industrial researchers interacted within far more tightly knit networks than their counterparts working in public organizations. The patenting and commercial exploitation of results led to fierce battles, with one group capturing most of the benefits.
 
Article
Surveys of almost 1,500 members of three professional societies that do risk analysis (e.g. environmental economics, epidemiology, exposure assessment, industrial hygiene, toxicology) found that 3 in 10 respondents had observed a biased research design, 2 in 10 had observed plagiarism, and 1 in 10 observed data fabrication or falsification. Respondents with many years in risk analysis, business consultants, and industrial hygienists reported the greatest prevalence of misconduct. These respondents perceived poor science, economic implications of the research, and lack of training in ethics as causes of misconduct. They supported the teaching of ethics but the vast majority did not support government auditing of their work.
 
Article
The historiography of race is usually framed by two discontinuities: The invention of race by European naturalists and anthropologists, marked by Carl Linnaeus's Systema naturae (1735); and the demise of racial typologies after WWII in favor of population-based studies of human diversity. This framing serves a similar function as the quotation marks that almost invariably surround the term. "Race" is placed outside of rational discourse as a residue of outdated essentialist and hierarchical thinking. I will throw doubt on this underlying assumption, not in order to re-legitimate race, but in order to understand better why race has been, and continues to be, such a politically powerful and explosive concept.
 
Article
To clarify concerns that the public has with genetic technologies, the article presents the results of focus group interviews conducted in Denmark in 2000. The concerns of the public are divided into three ideal-typical categories: social (dealing with environmental and health risks), economic (dealing with both the threats and opportunities of the new technologies), and cultural (taking up ethical and moral concerns). Following a general discussion of why it is important to take these discourses of concern seriously, each discursive category is discussed with examples taken from the focus group interviews.
 
Article
In the highly contentious abortion arena, the new oral abortifacient technology RU486 is one among many actors. This article offers an arena analysis of the heterogeneous constructions of RU486 by various actors, including scientists, pharmaceutical compa nies, medical groups, antiabortion groups, women's health movement groups, and others who have produced situated knowledges. Conceptually, we find not only that the identity of the nonhuman actor-RU486 -is unstable and multiple but also that, in practice, there are other (previously invisible) implicated actors—the downstream users and consumers of the technology. If we try to follow all the actors, we find a fuller and more historicized arena, and, ironically, we too can be construed as implicated actors in it.
 
Article
Neither traditional philosophy nor current applied ethics seem able to cope adequately with the highly dynamic character of our modern technological culture. This is because they have insufficient insight into the moral significance of technological artifacts and systems. Here, much can be learned from recent science and technology studies (STS). They have opened up the black box of technological developments and have revealed the intimate intertwinement of technology and society in minute detail. However, while applied ethics is characterized by a certain "technology blindness," the most influential approaches within STS show a "normative deficit" and display on agnostic or even antagonistic attitude toward ethics. To repair the blind spots of both applied ethics and STS, the authors sketch the contours of a pragmatist approach. They will explore the tasks and tools of a pragmatist ethics and pay special attention to the exploration of future worlds disclosed and shaped by technology and the management of deep value conflicts inherent in a pluralistic society.
 
Article
This article discusses xenotransplantation (XTP: the surgical role of nonhuman tissues, organs, and cells for human transplantation) and examines the way its scientific promoters have defended their technology against potentially damaging public representations. The authors explore the criteria used to legitimate the selection of the pig as the best species from which to "harvest" transplant tissues in the future. The authors' analysis shows that scientists and medical practitioners routinely switch between scientific and cultural repertoires. These repertoires enable such actors to exchange expert identities in scientific discourse for public identities in cultural discourse. These discourses map onto similarities and differences between animal donors and human hosts. Finally, the case is used to comment on a number of related approaches where the dynamics of medical and scientific authority are discussed.
 
Article
Throughout the 1980s, there was considerable public discussion in Britain about the legitimacy of scientific research upon human embryos and about the advisability of seeking to develop new science-based techniques that would further extend medical control over human reproduction. In 1990, legislation was passed permitting such research, but at the same time restricting its scope and specifying how the technologies of assisted reproduction were to be implemented. The present study examines how women contributed to, and were represented in, the final phase of parliamentary debate over the proposed legislation.
 
Article
This study uses evidence from the press and from the parliamentary record to examine the extent to which, and the ways in which, people involved in the public debate over laboratory experiments on human embryos in Britain during the 1980s drew on images from science fiction. It is shown that negative images from science fiction were used in the debate, but that these images could be transformed into resources for defending, as well as attacking, this form of scientific endeavor It is also shown that other fictional structures were present in the debate and that both sides relied heavily on fictional components to justify their competing appraisals of embryo research.
 
Article
This article explores the social frameworks guiding expert and nonexpert perspectives on medicines safety in the U.K. Scientific experts from the Committee on the Safety of Medicines and the Medicines Commission were interviewed, and three nonexpertgroups, including patients and health professionals, were studied by the administration of questionnaires and focused group discussions. The research examined to what extent these groups subscribed to technocratic or democratic approaches to medicines regula tion and how this might be related to values toward technological risk. The results reveal that there is substantial divergence between expert and nonexpert perspectives on medicines regulation, and that this derives as much from value differences as from any informational deficits. However, there seems to be some scope for shared values between some experts and some nonexperts, especially as regards state secrecy. The article concludes by discussing how those values could be used to foster a new "social contract of expertise" in which scientists are more democratically accountable and patients take more responsibility in governing medical risks.
 
Article
An important aspect of any meaningful public discussion about developments in gene technology is the provision of opportunities for interested publics to engage in sociable public discourse with other lay people and with experts. This article reports on a series of peer group conversations conducted in late 1996 and early 1997 with sixteen community groups in Perth, Western Australia, interested in gene therapy technology. With the case of cystic fibrosis as a particular focus, and using background resource material as a stimulus for discussion, the participating groups explored a range of value issues arising from the new genetic medicine. This more discursive context enabled participants to express a number of background or life-world concerns about genetic medicine, concerns that are often obscured by the dominant biomedical and bioethical discourses.
 
Top-cited authors
Lynn Jayne Frewer
  • Newcastle University
Gene Rowe
  • Gene Rowe Evaluations
David Guston
  • Arizona State University
Daniel Fiorino
  • American University Washington D.C.
Brian Wynne
  • Lancaster University