Research structures, policies and the "web of prevention": ethical implications for insufficient environments
Bezuidenhout, Louise Martha
Medicine, Conflict and Survival
Taylor and Francis
The dual-use potential of scientific research refers to the possibility that any beneficial scientific research may be misused for nefarious purposes by a third party. This potential within the life sciences has led to much discussion regarding ways to raise awareness and limit possible harm. The concept of a ‘web of prevention’ as a multifaceted system for addressing this potential for harm provides a comprehensive method of conceptualizing a system of controls in the life sciences. The web of prevention involves multiple stakeholders, from diverse backgrounds such as science, public health, security studies and governance. Research within the life sciences relies on a number of different structures, such as waste disposal and border controls, which provide a comprehensive environment for scientists to work in. The web of prevention relies on the assumption of these systems working to support any further initiatives that are proposed. Unfortunately, in many countries around the world, these systems are insufficiently addressed, which may raise ethical problems. Structural problems may undermine the web of prevention and alter the responsibilities attributed to the individual scientist within this system. Examples from sub-Saharan Africa illustrate two pertinent structural difficulties, and these are discussed in relation to ethical responsibilities.
2012 ed., Vol. 1, Issue 28, pp. 5 - 18