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Dual-Use Research

  1. Michael J. Selgelid

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee607

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Selgelid, M. J. 2013. Dual-Use Research. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013


Dual-use research is research that leads (or might be expected to lead) to the generation of information and/or technology that can be used for both good and bad purposes. Of particular concern is well-intentioned life science research that aims to promote advancements in medicine but might also facilitate development of biological weapons of mass destruction (see Weapons Research and Development). During the first decade of the twenty-first century, dual-use life science research has been one of the most controversial issues regarding the bioterrorist threat (see Terrorism), and a central topic of debate about science policy. Attention to this topic is associated with recent rapid advances in genetics and heightened fears of bioterrorism that resulted from the terrorist attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001 and the anthrax attacks that occurred soon afterwards. Given the potentially severe consequences that could result from malicious use of dual-use life science research, it has been argued that increased oversight of dual-use research and/or publication of dual-use discoveries may be necessary, that science codes of conduct for scientists (explicitly addressing dual-use issues) should be adopted (see Codes of Ethics), and/or that scientists should be further educated about ethics.


  • medicine;
  • practical (applied) ethics;
  • science;
  • bioethics;
  • duty and obligation;
  • engineering;
  • peace;
  • research;
  • terrorism;
  • war and conflict