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date: 12 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Fear of the unnatural plays an important role when evaluating a powerful technology such as genetic engineering. Several factors contribute to fear of the unnatural, including heuristics and predispositions. This chapter examines the availability heuristic, affect heuristic, and naturalistic fallacy. It also discusses predispositions such as environmentalism, disgust sensitivity, morality, and anxiety and how fear of the unnatural—if inconsistent with the best available scientific evidence—is a problematic basis for public debate regarding genetic modification. Drawing on several case studies in which fear of the unnatural was overcome and public debate shifted from instinctive fear to substantive deliberation about responsible innovation, the chapter suggests that strategies to overcome fear of the unnatural can foster social accountability.

Keywords: genetic modification, genetic engineering, fear of the unnatural, availability heuristic, affect heuristic, naturalistic fallacy, disgust, accountability

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