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Promissory Ethical Regimes: Publics and Public Goods in Genome Editing for Human Health

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Matthias WienrothORCiD, Professor Jackie Scully



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


This paper analyses promissory discourse for genome editing and human health in the UK, attending to the articulation of public goods and their beneficiary publics. Focusing on promissory reasoning about an emerging technology field as anticipatory, and ethical considerations as integral to such debates, the notion of ethical regime as a mode of governance is applied to the concept of promissory regime. By analyzing key documents and interviews with opinion leaders—thus focusing on the discursive dimension—an enabling promissory ethical regime for genome editing, and its contestation are identified. This regime posits scientific knowledge production now, and improved treatment or prevention of hereditary diseases later, as key goods of genome editing for human health, and as a sociotechnical project worthy of support. Specific publics are created as beneficiaries. These publics and goods play out as ethical rationales for the promissory governance of the emerging field of human genome editing.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Wienroth M, Scully JL

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Science & Public Policy

Year: 2021

Pages: epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 03/08/2021

Acceptance date: 14/07/2021

Date deposited: 14/01/2020

ISSN (print): 0302-3427

ISSN (electronic): 1471-5430

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/scipol/scab052


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