Dual-use decision making: relational and positional issues

Monash Bioeth Rev. 2014 Sep-Dec;32(3-4):268-83. doi: 10.1007/s40592-015-0026-y.


Debates about dual-use research often turn on the potential for scientific research to be used to benefit or harm humanity. This dual-use potential is conventionally understood as the product of the magnitude of the harms and benefits of dual-use research, multiplied by their likelihood. This account, however, neglects important social aspects of the use of science and technology. In this paper, I supplement existing conceptions of dual-use potential to account for the social context of dual-use research. This account incorporates relational and positional concerns that feature in the success or failure of dual-use. I then defend this account against foreseeable objections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Awareness
  • Biomedical Research / ethics*
  • Biomedical Research / standards
  • Decision Making / ethics*
  • Ethics, Research
  • Humans
  • Influenza A Virus, H5N1 Subtype* / isolation & purification
  • Influenza A Virus, H5N1 Subtype* / pathogenicity
  • Influenza, Human* / epidemiology
  • Influenza, Human* / transmission
  • Influenza, Human* / virology
  • Pandemics / prevention & control
  • Synthetic Biology / ethics
  • United States / epidemiology