Synthetic Biology Analysed

Tools for Discussion and Evaluation

  • Margret Engelhard

Part of the Ethics of Science and Technology Assessment book series (ETHICSSCI, volume 44)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Margret Engelhard, Michael Bölker, Nediljko Budisa, Kristin Hagen, Christian Illies, Rafael Pardo-Avellaneda et al.
    Pages 1-25
  3. Michael Bölker, Margret Engelhard, Nediljko Budisa
    Pages 27-50
  4. Margret Engelhard, Michael Bölker, Nediljko Budisa
    Pages 51-69
  5. Georg Toepfer
    Pages 71-88
  6. Christian Illies
    Pages 89-125
  7. Rafael Pardo Avellaneda, Kristin Hagen
    Pages 127-170

About this book


Synthetic biology is a dynamic, young, ambitious, attractive, and heterogeneous scientific discipline. It is constantly developing and changing, which makes societal evaluation of this emerging new science a challenging task, prone to misunderstandings. Synthetic biology is difficult to capture, and confusion arises not only regarding which part of synthetic biology the discussion is about, but also with respect to the underlying concepts in use. This book offers a useful toolbox to approach this complex and fragmented field. It provides a biological access to the discussion using a 'layer' model that describes the connectivity of synthetic or semisynthetic organisms and cells to the realm of natural organisms derived by evolution.
Instead of directly reviewing the field as a whole, firstly our book addresses the characteristic features of synthetic biology that are relevant to the societal discussion. Some of these features apply only to parts of synthetic biology, whereas others are relevant to synthetic biology as a whole. In the next step, these new features are evaluated with respect to the different areas of synthetic biology. Do we have the right words and categories to talk about these new features? In the third step, traditional concepts like “life” and “artificiality” are scrutinized with regard to their discriminatory power. This approach may help to differentiate the discussion on synthetic biology. Lastly our refined view is utilized for societal evaluation. We have investigated the public views and attitudes to synthetic biology. It also includes the analysis of ethical, risk and legal questions, posed by present and future practices of synthetic biology.
This book contains the results of an interdisciplinary research project and presents the authors’ main findings and recommendations. They are addressed to science, industry, politics and the general public interested in this upcoming field of biotechnology.


Concept of Life Ethics Legal Social Aspects Synthetic Biology Technology Assessment Xenobiology

Editors and affiliations

  • Margret Engelhard
    • 1
  1. 1.& Innovation Assessment GmbHEA European Academy of TechnologyBad Neuenahr-AhrweilerGermany

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Engineering Engineering (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-25143-1
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-25145-5
  • Series Print ISSN 1860-4803
  • Series Online ISSN 1860-4811
  • Buy this book on publisher's site