Philosophy and ethics of synthetic biology

The rapidly emerging field of synthetic biology is bringing forth novel entities, like engineered micro-organisms, cultured meat, artificial cells. Because these entities show characteristics of both machines and organisms, often framed ‘synthetic organisms’ or ‘living machines’, they are neither purely natural beings, nor purely artificial. By definition, they challenge existing conceptual distinctions, like
natural – artificial, organism – machine, alive – lifeless, industrial – ecological; distinctions that are heavily engraved in our thinking, but that no longer help us understand these novel entities.

This research aims to reflect on the ontological and ethical status of these hybrid entities stemming from synthetic biology.

Discourse analysis, lab visits, normative assessment of applications of synthetic biology.

References: Metabolism Instead of Machine: Towards an Ontology of Hybrids