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THE SCIENCE AND ETHICS OF GENETIC ENGINEERING



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Harvard Journal of Law Technology Volume 10 Number3 Summer 1997 IMPROVING NATURE THE SCIENCE AND ETHICS OF GENETIC ENGINEERING By Michael Reiss I Roger Straughan 2 New York N Y Cambridge University Press 1996 Pp 288 24 95 hard Improving Nature is guided by a simple set o f premises t h a t the science o f genetic engineering is essential to discussing its ethics and moreover that a coherent set o f ethical principles cannot be developed solely from scientific comprehension This stance is sensible if not selfevident in the examination o f any new technology 3 The authors Michael Reiss a biologist at Cambridge University and Roger Straughan a moral philosopher at the University of Reading would seem an apropos pair to tackle genetic engineering4 from this integrdted science and ethics approach But while each contributes heartilyto introducing the science o f genetic engineering and philosophical ethics as separate topics their resulting application o f this hybrid method is generally too cursor to be useful I INTRODUCING THE SCIENCE AND ETHICS The first forty pages o f Improving Nature present an admirable introduction to the history and science o f genetic engineering accessible to anyone passingly familiar with biology The authors highlight the unique features and possibilities o f genetic engineering in order to lay a suitable foundation for discussing its novel ethical consequences Although many public relations types scientists and government I MichaelReiss holds a Ph D in biologyfrom CambridgeUniversityand is now a SeniorLecturerin Biologyat HomertonCollege Cambridge His currentresearchinterests are science education and bioothics He is also a priest in the Church of England 2 RogerSlraughanis a moralphilosopherand Readerin Educationat the University of Reading He has also acted as ethical advisor to the EuropeanUnion 3 For example in analyzinghow to govern the deploymentof a nuclear bomb a societywould not wish to relyjust on the scientistswho built it On



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