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date: 16 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In conventional thinking, the promise of scientific progress gives automatic and unquestioned legitimacy to any new development in biotechnology. It is the nearest thing we have in a morally relativistic society to the concept of the common good. This chapter begins by examining a recent case study, so-called ‘mitochondrial transfer’ or three-person IVF, in which policymakers appeared to accept that this new technology should be effectively deregulated because that would serve UK national scientific progress and the national interest, despite serious unanswered concerns about its effectiveness and safety. The historical and philosophical underpinnings of the concept of the common good should make us more sceptical of the manner in which the concept can be perverted by particular interests. But there are also hopeful signs that the common good and the biomedical commons are being taken seriously in new models for governance of genomics and biotechnology more generally.

Keywords: common good, tragedy of the commons, communitarianism, human genome, mitochondrial transfer, three-person IVF, bioeconomy, biobanks

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