Situating ethics accountability legitimacy and advocacy

According to Irwin, ideas and practices associated with 'the social' or those which might be defined as 'ethical' are part of a newly evolving paradigm in the governance of 'science' in the UK and Europe (2002). Others have been more explicit in identifying ethics and developments in the life and biological science as increasingly co-determined aspects of each other, where being 'socially robust' becomes an important criterion for success in scientific research (Nowotny et al. 2001). The second part of this chapter explores the politics, production, as well as the consumption, of some of these new agendas for accountability and legitimacy, in the context of a charity pursuing basic science research which includes work on the BRCA genes. It examines how particular ethical and social concerns were increasingly being made explicit and incorporated, the kind of legitimacies being sought in this process and the 'double binds' (Fortun 2001) this often also entailed. As Fisher points out, there is a need for studies that 'engage science as domains in which ethics are worked out' not in order to 'dismiss false claims but to understand the different kinds of functionalities that [these] claims help constitute' (2005: 379).

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