Anthropogenic climate change is "one of the greatest challenges of our time" as affirmed by the governments of the world. The newest comprehensive assessment Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) documents a rapidly and profoundly changing Earth System and provides the latest understanding of changes ahead of us. The most important findings, approved by the governments are: (i) Warming of the climate system is unequivocal; (ii) It is extremely likely that human influence is the dominant cause of the observed warming since the...
How to be Good? is the pre-eminent question for ethics, although one that philosophers and ethicists seldom address head on. Knowing how to be good, or perhaps more modestly and more accurately, knowing how to go about trying to be good, is of immense theoretical and practical importance. This “know how” is the business of a science of the good. It is also perhaps the most important issue facing contemporary neuroscience, social policy and criminal justice. The links between this highly theoretical question and the preoccupations of contemporary neuroscience and the interests...
If we have to define human rights, we can say that the idea of human rights is an expression of the political and moral relationship that should prevail between individuals and society out of the context of fear. The term “human rights” suggests two things: on the one hand, a commitment to individual worth, and the fact that values of liberty and autonomy are more important than values of order, on the other hand, an emphasis on the idea of “universality” which claims that these are rights of all human beings anywhere and anytime. In other words, the idea of human rights...
Science remains the most powerful tool that our species has at its disposal to deal with the planet and its challenges – the only one to which we continue to show hope and faith, both increasingly scarce resources. For this reason, the question of the social impact of science, and the social dimension of science, has always played a central role. Today, technology designs and builds scenarios that are increasingly complex and far from the citizen’s common sense. The problem of how to engage them, to how to let them know and above all understand what happens becomes a not only a social...
DRAFT FINAL DECLARATION (open for comments) We, the undersigned, women and men of science, politicians, citizens met in Rome (Chamber of Deputies and Capitol hill) for the Third meeting of the World Congress for Freedom of Research. We welcome the continuation of the World Congress initiative, started with the Constituent Assembly meeting in October 2004 and continued through the first meeting in february 2006 and the Second meeting in march 2009. We identify the following specific objectives to be pursued at all levels, transnational, national and local: monitoring the state...
Every day around the world, governing bodies enforce new policy measures to improve people’s health and well-being, reform education or regulate the economy. The process leading to new policy is very often the same. A societal problem emerges getting media and political attention, then a handful of people in charge consult experts, sometimes ask the latter to write reports, and based on their recommendations design a reform or policy intervention (supposed) to fix the problem. In spite of such decisions will potentially impacting the lives and behavior of millions of citizens, the paradox is...
Our panel will look at how to promote scientific validity within political decision-making processes. In my speech I will focus on the issue of public decisions’ empirical bases. In Europe, two approaches have conflicted for the past twenty years, or perhaps even more: that of decisions’ empirical bases, and the precaution principle. These approaches are seen as antithetical, but I will explain that their reconciliation is feasible, and indeed useful.
This paper outlines how international governance processes reflect and respond to tensions between scientific freedom and security in relation to work involving dangerous pathogens and how responsibility is increasingly emphasised in this work. It incorporates consideration of reciprocal responsibilities of policy-makers and scientists in the development and implementation of governance measures in this area. International governance of dangerous pathogens (including biological materials and associated data) is complicated because two distinct issue areas overlap – arms control and...
The most important event in the life of the Russian scientific community in recent decades is without doubt last year’s reform of the Russian Academy of Sciences. This reform radically changes the situation both in the Russian science and in its relations with the political authorities. Last year’s reform has much deteriorated the situation not only from the last two decades, but even compared to the Soviet era. All elements of autonomy and self-government that existed until that time were destroyed. The model of academic research that worked in Russia for decades in a rather effective...
The development of genetically engineered animals arose from work in the United States in the early 1980s, with the first GE livestock being reported in 1985. Since that time a large number of gene constructs have been inserted into livestock with the intention of use in food production. However, to date no GE animal product has been approved for use in food anywhere in the world. A number of potentially valuable GE animals will be presented followed by my interpretation of the impact of the anti-GE movement and political forces have had on the development of this research in the US.