Liberty is believed to be both an intrinsic good in the sense that it is a good because of its intimate relationship to what is widely accepted to be distinctive and valuable about human beings, but liberty is also instrumental good – good through its connection to human flourishing to the effective functioning of a market place of ideas, which again might be another description of science itself.
It is the fundamental duty of the state to secure the safety of people – but…in which direction lies the safety of people? Does it lie in the free publication of science or does it lie in various sorts of control measures.
……..some of these are clearly the protections of which Hobbes speaks, others are the set of liberties necessary to protect rights and promote human flourishing. It is the balance between these, it seems to me, which we are concerned.
The challenge is to take responsible risk, in pursuit of among other things, public safety.
There is simply no such thing as risk free approach to security. The precautionary principal is an illusion, because in order to implement it, we have to know in which direction precaution lies, that is just what we don’t know, because it is too complicated to work it out; in almost all cases precaution walks both sides of every street.
‘As we compare the current threat posed by bioterrorism, and our past experience with the threat of influenza, we would argue that the nature itself should be considered the prime bioterrorist.’
‘The whole practice of medicine might be described as the comprehensive attempt to frustrate the cause of nature………. and to prevent nature from killing people in its usual extravagant fashion. If we are to provide for the safety of people, we need a dual uses of solutions.
(John Harris, Merton College Oxford)
John Harris was one of the Founder Directors of the International Association of Bioethics and is a founder member of the Board of the journal Bioethics and is also the joint Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Medical Ethics.