26 BIG Ideas
The city's leaders in health, science, politics, food, and culture share their game-changing ideas for San Diego in 2016.
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Let’s become a major voice on ethical science.
Craig Callender, Chair of Philosophy, UC San Diego
Designer babies, driverless cars, and modified mosquitoes—innovations may be boundary-pushing, but the moral quandaries these advances create are raising plenty of controversy. That’s why Dr. Callender, who is launching UC San Diego’s new bioethics minor this month, has big plans to establish the Institute for Practical Ethics.
At the institute, research would identify costs and benefits and, in some cases, influence policy and legislation. “Sometimes the results of research are indirect. Yet ideas have power. Look at the spread of informed consent forms throughout medicine. That idea went from the ivory tower to the hospital wards in my lifetime,” he says. “Scientists, like the rest of us, are well-meaning people and also fear these irresponsible interventions. So perhaps the bigger worry is that not knowing what’s responsible leads to paralysis. The idea is not to slow down science, but rather to figure out what’s responsible, so that we can progress.”