Vermelding onderdeel organisatie
1
Is Biology Engineering by Other
Means?
Intentions and artifacts
David Koepsell, SYBHEL ...
The Ontology of Artifacts
• Artifacts are a specific type of token, one that comes
into being through human intention. Eve...
The Ontology of Artifacts
• Accidents are byproducts of intention, and not the goal
of intentional action. Their existence...
The Ontology of Artifacts
• Expressions are intended extensions of ideas into the universe. Ideas
are non-corporeal, they ...
The Ontology of Artifacts
• Naturally occurring objects are clearly not artifacts.
The question remains as to how to class...
The Ontology of Artifacts
• Thus: a field full of a food crop consists of artefactual
and non artefactual components. Whil...
The Ontology of Artifacts
• What is missing from the definition "all man made
objects intentionally produced" is a more re...
The Role of Intention
• The clearest distinction between man-made and
natural phenomena is rooted in intention.
• Biology,...
The Role of Intention
• One thing that makes biology unique is that it is the
cause of creatures capable of intention. Bio...
The Role of Intention
• Biology is not nature’s engineering given the manner
in which biological organisms and processes e...
The Role of Intention
• The survival imperative is not a moral imperative. Only
with the evolution of creatures capable of...
The Role of Intention
• Anticipating the special harms that could result from
both synthetic biology and nanotechnology, s...
Designing for Values
• Anticipating the special harms that could result from
both synthetic biology and nanotechnology, sp...
Designing for Values
• Designing for values requires first identifying the
values necessary to prevent ethical wrongs, or ...
Designing for Values
• Beneficence, non-malificence, dignity (respect for
persons), and justice have long been held to be
...
Designing for Values
• These principles are all, at root, dependent already
upon intentions. While the Belmont Principles,...
Designing for Values
• Biology gave us the capacity for intending, and now
places upon engineers in the position of creati...
Designing for Values
• Engineering differs from biology because it is an intentional
process. The trick is to build into s...
Designing for Values
• While many see synthetic biology as the mere
application of the processes of engineering to
biologi...
Designing for Values
• Designing synthetic biological artifacts for these values
means recognizing certain moral limitatio...
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Sybhel2011

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Sybhel2011

  1. 1. Vermelding onderdeel organisatie 1 Is Biology Engineering by Other Means? Intentions and artifacts David Koepsell, SYBHEL Workshop, Jun 26-28, Bristol, UK Delft University of Technology
  2. 2. The Ontology of Artifacts • Artifacts are a specific type of token, one that comes into being through human intention. Every non- artefactual token is either natural or an accident. Natural tokens owe their genesis to non-teleological causes.
  3. 3. The Ontology of Artifacts • Accidents are byproducts of intention, and not the goal of intentional action. Their existence is dependent upon intention, but not the responsibility of the creator
  4. 4. The Ontology of Artifacts • Expressions are intended extensions of ideas into the universe. Ideas are non-corporeal, they are ontologically prior to intentions, and all expressions express some idea. Pi is an idea, but a circle is an expression. • Ideas are distinct from thoughts, which are the instantiation of ideas in minds. The type/token distinction is embodied in the idea/expression dichotomy, but the subjects of these do not fully coincide.
  5. 5. The Ontology of Artifacts • Naturally occurring objects are clearly not artifacts. The question remains as to how to classify man made objects that are identical morphologically, although not genetically, to naturally occurring objects. Is a perfect clone of a wild animal an artifact? • One solution lies in asking as to what the intention must be considered….
  6. 6. The Ontology of Artifacts • Thus: a field full of a food crop consists of artefactual and non artefactual components. While the arrangement of the rows of plants, and the selection of seeds used to sow the field were intentional, the particular arrangement of genes that makes the crop desirable was not intended, even if the crop itself was selected for over time
  7. 7. The Ontology of Artifacts • What is missing from the definition "all man made objects intentionally produced" is a more refined view, in which artifacts, whose whole form may in fact be intentional, and which are expressive of a specific idea, nonetheless contain non-artefactual components. Artifacts may consist of non-artefactual parts. Moreover, artefactual activities can result in non- artefactual outcomes, including products that are natural
  8. 8. The Role of Intention • The clearest distinction between man-made and natural phenomena is rooted in intention. • Biology, like other natural phenomena, is not directed by intention. At least none of the products or processes developed over the course of evolution’s long history has been the result of any intention.
  9. 9. The Role of Intention • One thing that makes biology unique is that it is the cause of creatures capable of intention. Biological entities that are created intentionally (as in genetic engineering) are potentially agents, or at least uncontainable if they are capable of reproduction.
  10. 10. The Role of Intention • Biology is not nature’s engineering given the manner in which biological organisms and processes evolve. Having no intention behind its processes, nature is immune from standard moral or ethical judgment. Nature manufactures plagues and predators, and devises strategies for survival that have no ethical basis whatsoever.
  11. 11. The Role of Intention • The survival imperative is not a moral imperative. Only with the evolution of creatures capable of intentional action, considered in light of future repercussions, potential rights, responsibilities or duties, have the imperatives of the good arisen.
  12. 12. The Role of Intention • Anticipating the special harms that could result from both synthetic biology and nanotechnology, specifically its potential uncontainability, means that engineers must build their intentions into their products such that values are integral. Designing for values means that the values we regard as essential become a part of the technology itself.
  13. 13. Designing for Values • Anticipating the special harms that could result from both synthetic biology and nanotechnology, specifically its potential uncontainability, means that engineers must build their intentions into their products such that values are integral. Designing for values means that the values we regard as essential become a part of the technology itself.
  14. 14. Designing for Values • Designing for values requires first identifying the values necessary to prevent ethical wrongs, or to promote goods, and designing systems and artifacts to incorporate, rather than merely accommodate, those values. • The generally accepted principles expressed in the Common Code, or Belmont Principles, can guide the development of synthetic biology and nanotechnology as a template for designing for health values.
  15. 15. Designing for Values • Beneficence, non-malificence, dignity (respect for persons), and justice have long been held to be necessary ethical principles, rooted in ancient ethical and moral thought, most directly applicable to human subjects in clinical settings.
  16. 16. Designing for Values • These principles are all, at root, dependent already upon intentions. While the Belmont Principles, in recognizing the need to balance risks and benefits in pursuing research or treatment, utilize utilitarian frameworks to some limited degree, the primacy of intention in weighing responsibilities and liabilities is clear
  17. 17. Designing for Values • Biology gave us the capacity for intending, and now places upon engineers in the position of creating technologies whose full implications cannot be known. With this comes the ethical responsibility to build into such technologies some limiting factors, some positive values, and some measure of humility.
  18. 18. Designing for Values • Engineering differs from biology because it is an intentional process. The trick is to build into synthetic biological systems man’s capacities for good intention, and to limit bad intentions – so that the artifacts devised within and by this technology abide by the values we already ascribe to in medicine and research. • We do this with numerous other technologies and their artifacts, for instance: adding filters to cigarettes, safety locks on guns, replacing ozone-depleting chemicals with more inert ones, building into prescription opiates time-release mechanisms meant to defeat their intentional misuse, etc.
  19. 19. Designing for Values • While many see synthetic biology as the mere application of the processes of engineering to biological components, biology and its special characteristics, including our existence as biological phenomena, imports special duties. We recognize these duties in already existing fields of applied ethics. Research and medical ethics have adopted well- formed principles to guide clinicians and researchers when dealing with human subjects. These principles depend upon directing our intentions toward the good in medical and research practice.
  20. 20. Designing for Values • Designing synthetic biological artifacts for these values means recognizing certain moral limitations and positive duties when creating artifacts and systems that interact with humans and their environments, respecting their dignity, promoting human health, and avoiding harms.

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