Gregory E. Kaebnick

Gregory E. Kaebnick


Director, Research Department; Editor, Hastings Center Report; Senior Research Scholar

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Gregory E. Kaebnick explores questions about the values at stake in developing and using biotechnologies and, particularly, in questions about the value given to nature and human nature. He is also the director of the Research Department, and one of the editors of the Hastings Center Report, and a Hastings Center fellow. He has testified before Congress on ethical issues concerning synthetic biology and served on a National Academy of Sciences committee, Gene Drive Research in Non-Human Organisms: Recommendations for Responsible Conduct. He is the author of Humans in Nature: The World As We Find It and the World As We Create It (Oxford, 2014). He was an associate editor for the fourth edition of the Encyclopedia of Bioethics (MacMillan, 2014) and editor of several editions of Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Bioethical Issues, (McGraw-Hill, 2013-2019).

Dr. Kaebnick is currently the principal investigator of a project, funded by the National Science Foundation, on the ethics of causing the extinction of a species by means of genome editing. Past NSF-funded projects examined the values at play in the impact assessment of emerging technologies and the use of public engagement to shape policy decisions about the use of genome editing in the shared environment. Other past projects he has led, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, have considered ethics of synthetic biology, compared how bioethics differs from environmental and agricultural ethics in its analysis of the human relationship to nature, and considered how citizens learn and make decisions about science policy issues (and how their “civic learning” contributes to democratic society). He has also worked on ethical issues associated with paternity testing and animal research ethics.

He received his BA in religion from Swarthmore College and his PhD in philosophy from the University of Minnesota.


Gregory E. Kaebnick, ed., Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Bioethical Issues (McGraw-Hill, 2015).

Gregory E. Kaebnick, Humans in Nature: The World as We Find It and the World as We Create It (Oxford University Press, 2013).

Gregory E. Kaebnick and Thomas H. Murray, eds., Synthetic Biology and Morality: Artificial Life and the Bounds of Nature (MIT Press, 2013).

Gregory E. Kaebnick, ed., Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Bioethical Issues (McGraw-Hill, 2013).

Gregory E. Kaebnick, ed., The Ideal of Nature (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011).

Lori P. Knowles and Gregory E. Kaebnick, eds., Reprogenetics: Law, Policy, and Ethical Issues, (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007).

In the Media

BuzzFeed, on the potential use of genetic engineering to home-brew opioids

Washington Post on the ethics of the president pardoning a turkey before Thanksgiving

Selected Scholarly Publications

Gregory E. Kaebnick, Michael K. Gusmano, and Thomas H. Murray, “Ethical Questions of Synthetic Biology: Next Steps and Prior Questions,” Hastings Center Report 44, no. 55 (2014): s4-26.

Gregory E. Kaebnick, “Of Microbes and Men,” Hastings Center Report 41, no. 4 (2011): 25.

“Should Moral Objections to Synthetic Biology Affect Public Policy?” Nature Biotechnology 27,

no. 12 (2009): 1106.

Selected Commentaries

“Should We Leave Our Wilderness to Its Fate?,” New York Times, July 11, 2014.

“Is the ‘Synthetic Cell’ about Life?,” The Scientist, July 2010.

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