Public Conference of the German Ethics Council and the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina

Global Science - Global Ethics?

Auditorium Friedrichstraße, Friedrichstraße 180, 10117 Berlin

Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka, Bundesministerin für Bildung und Forschung, zu Gast beim Deutschen Ethikrat, Deutscher Ethikrat, Fotograf: Reiner Zensen


Science takes increasingly place in global networks and international research alliances. Not only does science reveal its potential for globalisation, but globalisation also challenges science. Researchers can hardly keep track of the various legal regulations and standards as well as cultural contexts. In addition, global players are driving the commercialisation of research.

In the course of this conference, organised jointly with the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the German Ethics Council discusses the specific opportunities and challenges that globalisation presents for science and what this means for a globalisation of ethics.

The focus is on the following questions:

  • Can there be global ethics?
  • In view of the cultural, social and legal diversity, is it possible to establish universally valid ethical principles that can be agreed upon by different cultures?
  • What could be the basis for internationally binding standards?
  • Is the reference to human rights, which is often made in this context, suitable to serve as a basis for such an undertaking?
  • Which standards should be called for globally and which should be defined by individual cultures? Who should take these decisions?
  • Can academic research still compete given the commercial and technical power of global players, and how can such research be supported?

Following introductory lectures, the German Ethics Council discusses these questions with experts from the fields of philosophy, religious studies, science, medicine and public international law, using the examples of genome editing and clinical research on humans.