"Editing" Genes: A Case Study About How Language Matters in Bioethics

Am J Bioeth. 2015;15(12):3-10. doi: 10.1080/15265161.2015.1103804.


Metaphors used to describe new technologies mediate public understanding of the innovations. Analyzing the linguistic, rhetorical, and affective aspects of these metaphors opens the range of issues available for bioethical scrutiny and increases public accountability. This article shows how such a multidisciplinary approach can be useful by looking at a set of texts about one issue, the use of a newly developed technique for genetic modification, CRISPRcas9.

Keywords: CRISPR; genomic; germline modification; metaphor; public engagement; rhetoric.

MeSH terms

  • Bioethical Issues
  • Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats / genetics
  • Comprehension*
  • Genetic Research / ethics*
  • Genome, Human*
  • Germ-Line Mutation
  • Humans
  • Interdisciplinary Communication*
  • Journalism, Medical
  • Metaphor*
  • Newspapers as Topic
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Semantics*
  • Terminology as Topic*
  • Uncertainty
  • United States