Skip to main content

LST faculty published in journal


September 18, 2009

Science and Engineering Ethics has published a special edition that is an offshoot of a conference held at the law school and includes contributions from faculty and staff in the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law's Center for the Study of Law, Science, & Technology. The 2006 conference entitled "Forbidding Science?" examined whether there should be any restrictions on controversial science in fields such as pathogen research, nanotechnology or human enhancement.

The September 2009 issue, "Forbidding Science: Balancing Freedom Security, Innovation and Precaution," is anchored by an article by Professor Gary Marchant, the Center's Executive Director. Titled "The Problems with Forbidding Science," the article, co-authored by Lynda Pope, a Center grants and contract coordinator, examines the process of restricting on scientific research and knowledge gathered by that research.

They write about the obstacles to legal approaches to forbidding science, including the limited technical competence of many legal decision makers, the potential for political mischief and manipulation, the difficulty in enforcing legal restrictions in a globalized economy and legislature inertia.

"Rather than using law to restrict scientific research, it may be more appropriate and effective to use a combination of non-traditional legal tools including norms, codes of conduct, restrictions on publication, and scientist-developed voluntary standards," they write.

To read the article, click here.

Marchant also wrote the issue's introduction, "Editors' Overview: Forbidding Science?" with Stephanie J. Bird, co-editor-in-chief of Science and Engineering Ethics. The overriding conclusion from the discourse at the Center's conference was that "people, whether they be experts or members of the general public, have sharply divergent and deeply held opinions on the central question of whether some scientific research should be forbidden."

Click here to read the full article.

In addition to the article by Marchant and Pope, the issue includes nine other articles and commentaries that approach the issue of forbidding science from different perspectives, disciplines and objectives. One, by Professor James Weinstein, the College's Amelia Lewis Professor of Constitutional Law, notes there may be constitutional limits on legal restrictions of science in some countries, although they are largely untested and uncertain.

In "Democracy, Individual Rights and the Regulation of Science," Weinstein writes about a crucial guidepost for exploring whether the U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to conduct scientific research and the extent to which the First Amendment protects the right to communicate the results of scientific research - both uncharted areas of constitutional law.

The guidepost "should be whether restrictions on scientific research or communication truly implicate fundamental individual rights or instead primarily concern issues of general social welfare - issues that in a democracy are properly decided by the representative branches of government or their delegates, not the judiciary," he writes.

To read the full article, click here.

Andrew Askland, the Center's Director, contributed the commentary, "Science and Socially Responsible Freedom," in which he advocates for the pubic to be involved in informed and meaningful ways in discussions about restricting scientific research.
"Science need not persuade everyone all of the time in order to satisfy the expectation that it engages with the public and provide the public with a voice in its deliberations," Askland writes. "Yet the engagement will produce probative results when measured in a larger framework."

Click here to read Askland's article.

The issue also includes contributions from prominent experts in the field including, Robert Post, Dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor at Yale Law School, Leon Kass, the Addie Clark Harding Professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the College at the University of Chicago and Nick Bostrom, Director of the Future Humanity Institute at Oxford University.

The 2006 Forbidding Science? conference from which the papers were produced was sponsored by the Center for the Study of Law, Science, & Technology in partnership with the Biodesign Institute at ASU, the Consortium for Science Policy Outcomes, the Biology in Society program, the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Janie Magruder, Jane.Magruder@asu.edu
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law