0. Overview


"There is no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination."

Daniel Dennet

The human practices project of our team did not concentrate on inquiring the ethical, social and legal implications of the synthetic biology, but rather on analysing what the actual sources of these diverse problems are. We believe that this is a necessary step before ethical, social and legal deliberations of synthetic biology can be fruitful; that indeed, at first, we need to examine if these problems are actual problems at all, as oppossed to just taking them as facts, without further consideration. To this avail, we tried to leave aside all ‘small-talk-philosophy’ and futuristic ethical ‘just-so-stories’ in order to conduct a detailed and rigorous philosophical analysis of the epistemology of synthetic biology and the ontology of its products. For this, we combined state-of the-art-approaches of three fields of analytic philosophy (philosophy of technology, philosophy of biology and philosophy of language) to deliver consistent judgements. The results of this philosophical analysis reveal a number of epistemological deficits of the synthetic biology, but also offer the possibility of a consistent epistemological foundation of it.


In addition to the philosophical analysis we also tried to didactically inform people of different ages about the nascent field of synthetic biology, in order to facilitate the acceptance and to avoid prejudice among the broad public. We worked with small children on extracting DNA from onions, visited high schools, held lectures for undergraduates and opened our doors to visitors and school students. Moreover, we presented our project on a congress in Berlin and gave three interviews in order to reach a broader audience. In summary, we can divide our human practices project in three main categories:

1. Philosophical Analysis

1.1 Philosophical essay

1.2 Chronicle of the philosophical evenings

2. Educational Outreach

2.1 Children – DNA-Extraction

2.2 High school students

2.2.1 Presentation for high school students

2.2.2 Practical training in our lab

2.2.3 Synthetic biology and society

2.3 Undergraduates – Compact seminar: ‘Theories of the Living’

2.4 Open house presentation

3. Public Outreach

3.1 ‘Biotechnologie2020+’ – Poster presentation

3.2 Interviews

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