Hastings Center News
Hastings President Addresses Need for Responsible Science and Public Engagement
Hastings Center president Mildred Solomon delivered the 2019 Wiese Lecture in Ethics and Medical Humanities at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston on May 2. Her talk, titled “Responsible Science Amidst Civic Discord: Can Bioethics Help?” focused on the need for examining values and engaging the public in the governance of new biotechnologies like gene drives, gene editing, and more.
We need “transformative ways to ensure public participation in the decisions we need to make,” Solomon said. “Creative forms of public engagement are particularly crucial now, in this time of growing anti-science sentiment, government distrust, and polarization.”
Solomon identified critical questions about the governance of these technologies that need to be answered, including whether a technology should be developed in the first place, what purposes it should be used for, and how its use should be monitored. The answers to these questions, she said, need to be informed not just by facts but also by values and principles that should guide communal decision-making, such as safety, fairness, privacy, and commitments to the equal worth of all. Watch the talk.
Solomon is a principal investigator on “How Should the Public Learn? Reconstructing Common Purpose and Civic Innovation for a Democracy in Crisis,” a Hastings Center project funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.