Liberalism and communitarianism have figured prominently in discussions of how to govern forensic DNA practices (forensic DNA typing and databasing). Despite the prominence of these two political philosophies and their underlying values, no studies have looked at the governance of forensic DNA practices in a nondemocratic country governed by a communitarian logic. To fill this lacuna in the literature, this article considers Singapore as an authoritarian state governed by a communitarian philosophy. The article highlights basic innovations and technologies of forensic DNA practices and articulates a liberal democratic version of “biolegality” as described by Michael Lynch and Ruth McNally. It goes on to consider briefly various (political) philosophies (liberalism and communitarianism) and law enforcement models (due process and crime control models). The main part of the article records the trajectory, and hence biolegal progress, of forensic DNA practices in Singapore and compares it with trajectories in England and the United States. The article concludes that Singapore's forensic DNA practices are organized according to the crime control model and therefore safety and the war against crime and terrorism trump individual rights and legal principles such as privacy, bodily integrity, proportionality, presumption of innocence. and onus of proof.
Trumping Communitarianism: Crime Control and Forensic DNA Typing and Databasing in Singapore
Victor Toom, a sociologist of science and law, empirically scrutinizes the uses of new and emerging forensic DNA typing technologies in contexts of law enforcement and mass human fatality investigation. His work blends extensive knowledge of forensic (genetic) technologies with state-of-the-art social scientific methodologies and theories. Dr. Toom is a research associate at the Northumbria University Centre for Forensic Science in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, is a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Research fellow, and was visiting scholar at the National University of Singapore (2011) and New York University (2013 and 2014).
Victor Toom; Trumping Communitarianism: Crime Control and Forensic DNA Typing and Databasing in Singapore. East Asian Science, Technology and Society 1 September 2014; 8 (3): 273–296. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/18752160-2416805
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