Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 571–582 | Cite as

From Cases to Capacity? A Critical Reflection on the Role of ‘Ethical Dilemmas’ in the Development of Dual-Use Governance

  • Brett EdwardsEmail author
  • James Revill
  • Louise Bezuidenhout
Original Paper


The dual-use issue is often framed as a series of paralyzing ‘dilemmas’ facing the scientific community as well as institutions which support innovation. While this conceptualization of the dual-use issue can be useful in certain contexts (such as in awareness-raising and as part of educational activities directed at the scientific community) its usefulness is more limited when reflecting on the governance and politics of the dual-use issue. Within this paper, key shortcomings of the dilemma framing are outlined. It is argued that many of the issues raised in the most recent debates about ‘dual-use’ bird flu research remain unresolved. This includes questions about the trajectories of certain lines of research, as well as broader trends in the practice and governance of science. This leads to difficult questions about current approaches to the dual-use issue within the US, as well as internationally.


Dual-use Ethics H5N1 Risk Bio-weapons New and emerging science and technologies Governance 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brett Edwards
    • 1
    Email author
  • James Revill
    • 2
  • Louise Bezuidenhout
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Politics, Languages and International StudiesUniversity of BathBathUK
  2. 2.Harvard Sussex Program, SPRU—Science and Technology Policy Research, Freeman CentreUniversity of SussexBrighton, East SussexUK
  3. 3.Department of Sociology and PhilosophyUniversity of ExeterExeterUK

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