8 November – Giulia Frezza

Risk and responsibility: metaphors in health communication

The emergence of the new tool of CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing technology could overturn the common idea about genetic therapy that it is expensive and elitist. As with other technological innovations that have an immediate application, the debate on CRISPR is heated. It displays a profusion of bioethical subjects on rights, patents, property, health costs and the over-spreading of “home-made” eugenic genome editing. The metaphors that are emerging and flourishing in this debate will be examined and discussed as the debate is still a hotspot.

However, the long-lasting fundamental issues concerning the use of metaphors in health communication are risk, control and responsibility. Despite actual and great scientific achievements, these vital issues still lie at the core of the bioethical debate. Responsibility, especially, involves at both scientists and public opinion that, anyhow, are frequently positioned on different or opposite sides. A finer analysis of what is, or should be, responsible behavior from both scientists’ and the public’s viewpoint is becoming more and more compelling, as stated by EU Framework ‘Horizon 2020’.

I will hence focus especially on the responsibility of science communication, by means of an analysis of the way public health is communicated through metaphors. The critical evaluation of the way risk factors are communicated to people will allow to draw some reflections about metaphor, risk and responsibility.

Potgieterszaal, University Library
Singel 421-427
1012 WP Amsterdam