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Ethics in Public Policy Making: The Case of Human Enhancement

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Ethics of S&T in human enhancement

European researchers explored the ethical aspects of science and technology (S&T), particularly as they relate to physical enhancement in sport.

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With the support of EU funding, members of the 'Ethics in public policy making: the case of human enhancement' (EPOCH) project took a comprehensive approach to outlining contentious developments in science, technology, and society and related governance. A major objective was to offer guidance and strategic options for governance activities in Europe, as well as specific proposals regarding public policies on selected enhancement technologies. Human enhancement relates to any modification of the human body that aims at improving performance through scientific–technological means. To generate new insights into the role of ethical expertise in European policymaking on S&T, project work was based on comparative analyses of current governance and normative frameworks at European and national levels. Ten partner institutions spanning various EU Member States as well as Canada and Singapore maintained a strong and critical participatory element, embedded in a broader multidisciplinary and reflexive governance framework. There were several research areas: academic, policy and public discourses; the institutional landscape of ethical policy advice and the multidisciplinary expertise involved in it; procedures and mechanisms for a participatory, socially inclusive and reflexive governance of S&T; and specific ethical and governance challenges raised by the use of new technologies for human enhancement. Tangible results delivered by participant institutions included a draft paper on governance, and an initial review of EU and international associations and organisations dealing with ethical advice on emerging sciences and technologies. In addition, the team produced a report on participatory and deliberative approaches, and participatory activities in S&T governance, and gave an overview of the state of the art and application contexts of selected enhancement technologies. Information was also gathered on policies for selected enhancement issues and governance developments. Beyond this output (and the project website, newsletters and research briefings delivered in the first year), EPOCH activities are expected to have important impact on a range of areas. EPOCH can help strengthen and support European policy and scientific communities dealing with normative and regulatory issues of new and emerging technologies. Project outcomes can contribute to the integration of these technologies in an open, effective and democratic knowledge-based society.


Ethics, human enhancement, science and technology, physical enhancement, public policy

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