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Synthetic Biology and MoralityArtificial Life and the Bounds of Nature$
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Gregory E. Kaebnick and Thomas H. Murray

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780262019392

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262019392.001.0001

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Appeals to Nature and the Natural in Debates about Synthetic Biology

Appeals to Nature and the Natural in Debates about Synthetic Biology

(p.15) 1 Appeals to Nature and the Natural in Debates about Synthetic Biology
Synthetic Biology and Morality

Andrew Lustig

The MIT Press

This chapter examines appeals to nature and their relevance to public policy debates about whether to ban, regulate, or support synthetic biology. The key religious, philosophical, and moral concerns which invoke the language of “playing God” have deep cultural roots. They express the idea that certain boundaries in nature are “off limits𠄭 to human action and ambition, reserved as “God's domain.” As this chapter argues, these boundaries between the organic and the synthetic are no longer clear or fixed. Other interpretations of religious teachings see humans as “created co-creators” with God, enhancing and restoring nature. Additionally, the interaction between human culture and nature has taken place since the beginning of organized agriculture.

Keywords:   synthetic biology, biotechnology, genetic engineering, God, biotechnical alteration

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