Publication Date01 Dec 2008
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008, 300 pp., £50.00)
In 1970 Justice Windeyer commented on `law, marching with medicine, but
in the rear and limping a little'.
In the nearly four decades since then much
has been written about the regulatory challenges posed by developments in
science and technology. Embryos, stem cells, cloning, genetics, and repro-
ductive technologies have all become part of the language of contemporary
society. While science and technology race ahead, transforming the realm of
the possible along the way and dazzling us with the pace of change, law
reform commissions and parliaments around the world have grappled with
the challenges brought by these changes. Yet the task of law reform has not
been easy, for in addition to the difficulties inherent in crafting laws for new
science, the very legitimacy of these regulatory solutions has increasingly
been questioned.
Roger Brownsword's book, Rights, Regulation, and the Technological
Revolution addresses these dilemmas, analysing the task of maintaining
legitimacy whilst regulating in the face of scientific and technological
change. Brownsword is a leading scholar in this area and many readers will
already be familiar with his work on human dignity. This book builds upon
that work to address the core issues of regulatory challenge and regulatory
opportunity. The book is divided into two parts. Part one is about regulatory
challenge, with the chapters in this part addressing challenges in regulatory
legitimacy, effectiveness, connection, and cosmopolitanism. Part two deals
with regulatory opportunity, addressing this issue through discussion of
genetic databases, and different regulatory forms and their impact on the
moral community.
Chapter one sets the scene by laying out the book's core concepts of
regulation, rights, and a community of rights. Brownsword identifies the
importance of legitimacy to the regulatory task arguing that regulators must
be able to argue that their regulatory strategies have a legitimate regulatory
purpose, that they are achieved through legitimate means, and that they are
effective. The crisis of legitimacy is a central theme in this book. As
Brownsword argues, `the ethical plurality is so deeply contested and
conflictual (especially in relation to modern biotechnology) that regulators
... will struggle to persuade all regulatees as to the legitimacy of their
position and practices.'
This chapter also distinguishes between regulatory
styles that can be marked as `stupid' (knee-jerk reactions to a moral panic)
and `smart' (moving away from traditional command and control
interventions to find new solutions based on an optimal mix of regulatory
1Mt Isa Mines v. Pusey (1970) 125 CLR 383.
2R.Brownsword, Rights, Regulation, and the Technological Revolution (2008) 10.
ß2008 The Author. Journal Compilation ß2008 Cardiff University Law School

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