The role of the arts in biopolicy-making

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I went to a good symposium in London last week, organised by theBiocentre. Ambitiously titled “Arts & technology: The role of the arts in democratic policy making”, it focused specifically on the biosciences.

Andy Miah, reader in new media and bioethics at the University of the West of Scotland, discussed the role of the arts and media dealing with contemporary socio-science issues. He felt that it was a prime responsibility of artists to address the hype coming from within the science world itself, particularly as scientists increasingly become adept manipulators of the media. He discussed some examples of how “artistic endeavours” have contributed to conversations about controversial issues, although often conflating art and media (a discussion in its own right). Chamu Kuppuswamy, lecturer in law at the University of Sheffield, argued the “special case” of biopolicy: the fundamental uncertainties involved in contrast to the ‘fixed’ nature of related legislation, the role of personal ethics – the conscience vote – in these issues – and the global nature of biopolicy.  She noted that legislation around bioscience was to regulate action and behaviours, not to validate scientific truth.

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