Drawing upon insights from research in the social sciences about the role of “issue framing” in policy debates, the paper presents an argument for employing “Responsible Science” as the fundamental frame for strategies to engage scientists and scientific organizations in issues related to the potential risks posed by “dual use” research in the life sciences. It argues that this focus on responsibilities rather than requirements will be more effective, particularly in initial engagement efforts. The work of several international scientific organizations to employ this framing in their education and outreach activities is presented to illustrate the advantages of such an approach. The paper also includes a case study of a controversy over dual use research with highly pathogenic avian influenza to illustrate the power of framing in policy debates.
This paper was originally presented at our 2016 Cambridge Conference on Catastrophic Risk, and was published in a Special Issue of Futures edited by Dr Adrian Currie.