Original Paper


, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 175-183

First online:

Dual-Use Research Codes of Conduct: Lessons from the Life Sciences

  • Michael J. SelgelidAffiliated withCentre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE), The Australian National UniversityWorld Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Bioethics, The Australian National UniversityNational Centre for Biosecurity, The Australian National University Email author 

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This paper considers multiple meanings of the expression ‘dual use’ and examines lessons to be learned from the life sciences when considering ethical and policy issues associated with the dual-use nature of nanotechnology (and converging technologies). After examining recent controversial dual-use experiments in the life sciences, it considers the potential roles and limitations of science codes of conduct for addressing concerns associated with dual-use science and technology. It concludes that, rather than being essentially associated with voluntary self-governance of the scientific community, codes of conduct should arguably be part of a broader regulatory oversight system.


Ethics Nanoethics Dual use Biological weapons Chemical weapons Mousepox Polio Influenza Codes of conduct Responsibility Science policy Regulation