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Ethical dimensions in Sciencewise




In 2010, Sciencewise completed 13 public dialogues on controversial and emerging science and technology policy areas dating back to 2005. The dialogues focused in on social, ethical, risk or governance issues, but was there consistency in what the public had to say about science?

This review examines the public attitudes to ethical and trust issues emerging from those dialogues.

Broadly, people were likely to be positive about developments in science and technology that promised gains in choice, quality of life, health, longevity, convenience, time-saving and reduced environmental impact. However, potential impacts on freedom, privacy, social equity, vulnerable groups such as the mentally ill or very young, or on ‘natural and human values’ were regarded with varying degrees of suspicion or hostility.

Three common lessons about the public participants’ attitudes to the science and policy were identified.

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