Convergent ethics and ethics of controversy (CEEC)

The overall goal of CEEC is to rethink the ethics and democratic regulation of novel biotechnologies. A dominant contemporary narrative holds that novel biotechnologies are potentially beneficial, yet may also be ethically problematic. This narrative reflects public scepticism toward biotechnologies – a scepticism that is expected to be reflected in legitimate governance.

CEEC will address and challenge this dominant narrative in three ways:

  1. First, CEEC argues that, far from being opposed to biotechnology, major ethical theories such as consequentialism, deontology, contractualism, and virtue ethics are supportive if certain requirements are satisfied. Specifically, we argue that the major ethical theories converge on accepting applications of novel biotechnologies on condition of relevant consent, sufficient benefit, acceptable levels of risk, and a fair distribution of benefits and burdens of application.
  2. Second, empirical work in cognitive psychology has documented important mechanisms that are likely to drive the public scepticism against novel biotechnologies. We are strongly inclined to use our cognition to sustain factual beliefs that support our identities and to defend against information that is perceived as a threat, leading us to biased information processing, to rejecting facts and evidence, and to accepting inflated assessments of risks (identity-protective cognition). CEEC will carry out new research on identity-protective cognition and controversial biotechnology in Danish and European contexts.
  3. Thirdly, CEEC will argue that mainstream theories of democratic legitimacy do not straightforwardly support the view that regulations of novel biotechnologies should reflect public scepticism towards new biotechnologies, when that scepticism is grounded in mistaken factual beliefs or in controversial fundamental values.

CEEC is supported by a generous grant by Novo Nordisk Fonden (10 mill DKK), and is headed by professor Klemens Kappel. The project commenced 1.2.2018 and is expected to be completed by January 2021.

Complete project description (pdf).






Name Title Phone E-mail
Kappel, Klemens Professor +4526194318 E-mail

Student assistant

Name Title Phone E-mail
Nielsen, Victor Lange Student    E-mail


Novo Nordisk Fonden

Future and past activities

Workshop: Exploitation in Bioethics
08.11.2018 9.00, to 09.11.2018 16.00.  
Room 15A.0.13, University of Copenhagen, Karen Blixens Plads 8, 2300 Copenhagen S. 

Kick-off, ‘Convergent ethics and ethics of controversy’.
14.03.2018, 16.15-17.30.
Room 15A.1.11, University of Copenhagen, Karen Blixens Plads 8, 2300 Copenhagen S.

Public lecture on public scepticism and science communication by Bjørn Gunnar Hallsson at ‘Forskningens Dag 2018’.
Read more (in Danish).

Public lecture by Bjørn Gunnar Hallsson at ‘Folkesundhedsdage 2018’.
Read more (in Danish).