Disclaimer : Here are just some ideas. This outline is not meant to be taken as the only, or the final answer, to this question.
Some really good and succinct articles :
Read this piece only if you have a whole lot of time : http://www.ehealthstrategies.com/files/fukuyama02.pdf
What are the roles of the government ? – progress (economic growth, social stability); security
How can a government regulate ? – laws, incentives, rules / guidelines, checks & monitoring
What parts of scientific research can be regulated ?
– the product (What to research : harmful or beneficial)
– the process (How the research is carried out ; the extent of the research : any harm ? exploitation ? violation of moral boundaries ?)
Stand : Governments should regulate scientific research so that the research is beneficial to the masses, but governments should not control to the extent of hindering the progress of the research.
- Utilitarian principle – greatest good for the majority + prevent harm to the public, end-users
- Set moral standards for society >>> Social stability – regulate what could be controversial and divisive
- Critical, sensitive research (e.g. defence) needs to be regulated, (groups of) scientists unauthorised by the state should be prohibited
- Economic growth – determine which research is potentially lucrative
- Prevent exploitation of end-users, test subjects, the environment etc
But do not regulate to the point of retarding scientific development. Here are some arguments against regulation :
- If other parties do better, then reduce regulation – Other may have better resources than the government + To increase competition amongst them
- Regulation prevents innovation and restricts the scientists from potential discoveries
- Government could implement regulatory policies based on simplistic or even alarmist views