(un)natural: Ideas about naturalness in public and political debates about science, technology and medicine


Published 30/11/2015

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When people describe something as natural, they might mean it is good, acceptable, safe or healthy. When something is described as unnatural, people can mean it is bad, unacceptable or dangerous. Views about what is natural or unnatural can affect the development and uptake of new technologies.

This project examined how ideas about naturalness feature in and affect public discussions about the ethics of science, technology and medicine. We enlisted poets to help us to explore these ideas in a creative way. Our recommendations aim to improve communication and understanding between people with different views about naturalness.

Project team

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Catherine Joynson

Assistant Director

Catherine is part of the senior management team. She is responsible for leading a range of Council projects including the active response programme and its horizon scanning work.


Anna Wilkinson

Research Officer

Anna undertakes research to support the Council’s work and contributes to the drafting of reports. Before joining the Council Anna worked on medical ethics at the General Medical Council and prior to that has worked in research and policy roles in the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the think tank Demos.