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The Ethics of Protocells
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The Ethics of Protocells: Moral and Social Implications of Creating Life in the Laboratory

Mark A. Bedau and Emily C. Parke

Abstract

Teams of scientists around the world are racing to create protocells—microscopic, self-organizing entities that spontaneously assemble from simple organic and inorganic materials. The creation of fully autonomous protocells—a technology that can, for all intents and purposes, be considered literally alive—is only a matter of time. This book examines the pressing social and ethical issues raised by the creation of life in the laboratory. Protocells might offer great medical and social benefits and vast new economic opportunities, but they also pose potential risks and threaten cultural and mora ... More

Keywords: protocells, inorganic materials, creation of life, social benefits, economic opportunities, moral norms, playing God, biotechnologies, open-source software, precautionary principle

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2009 Print ISBN-13: 9780262012621
Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013 DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262012621.001.0001

Authors

Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Mark A. Bedau, editor

Emily C. Parke, editor

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Contents

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1 Introduction to the Ethics of Protocells

Mark A. Bedau, and Emily C. Parke

I Risk, Uncertainty, and Precaution with Protocells

5 The Precautionary Principle and Its Critics

Emily C. Parke, and Mark A. Bedau

II Lessons from Recent History and Related Technologies

III Ethics in a Future with Protocells