Armed Conflict and Value Conflict: Case Studies in Biological Weapons

  • Michael J. Selgelid
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New book series (LIME, volume 41)

This paper provides ethical analysis of two case studies arising in the context of biological weapons. The first concerns what is commonly known as “the dual-use dilemma”, which arises when knowledge gleaned from scientific research can be used for both good and bad purposes. Scientific discoveries that constitute important advances in science and medicine, for example, may sometimes facilitate biological weapons development. For well-intentioned researchers, this creates difficult choices about whether or not to publish findings that could be used for harmful purposes by malevolent actors. Society or the government must likewise make tough choices about whether and/or how to regulate dual-use research and the dissemination of information that results from such research. For both individual scientists and the government, the dual-use dilemma poses a conflict between the protection of security, on the one hand, and the promotion of science and medicine, on the other. In the context of governmental regulation, the protection of security may also conflict with the protection of liberties such as academic freedom and freedom of speech.


Biological Weapon Global Public Good Security Expert Absolute Priority Public Health Protection 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Selgelid
    • 1
  1. 1.Menzies Centre for Health PolicyAustralian National UniversityAustralia

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