1. ESRC Genomics Network (archive)
  2. Gengage
  3. The Human Genre Project

Egenis · People

Dr. Richard Holdsworth

Research student - completed


I combined my research at Egenis with a post as a European civil servant*. I was Head of the Information Technology Coordination Service of the Directorate-General for Research of the European Parliament. I have also worked for the Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy, and the Division for International and Constitutional Affairs of the research department. My research at Exeter received support from the professional training service of the European Parliament. From its start in 1987 to 2000 I was head of the STOA team (Scientific and Technological Options Assessment) at the European Parliament. I helped to set up the European Parliamentary Technology Assessment network (EPTA). I also served on the scientific boards of the European Congresses on Technology Assessment in Milan (1990) and Copenhagen (1992). The background for my European career was a degree in French at Oxford and an MSc(Econ) in International Relations at the LSE. During my time at the LSE I served as editor of Millennium: Journal of International Studies and received the Gladstone Memorial Prize (1975). In 1977, I spent a term as a Foreign Research Scholar at the Institute of Social Science, University of Tokyo. At the LSE I developed the interest in the philosophy of science, including social science, that continues to motivate my research today and also laid the basis for a career in science and technology policy. Since the early 1990s I have been an active member of the Society for Applied Philosophy, contributing papers to two annual conferences and and presenting a workshop. I completed my PhD in December 2009 and am now an honorary fellow of Egenis.

*Note: Any opinions expressed in these pages are personal to the author and do not commit his employer, the European Parliament.


Chapters in books

'Parliamentary Technology Assessment by STOA at the European Parliament' in Norman J. Vig and Herbert Paschen (Editors), Parliaments and technology - the development of technology assessment in Europe, SUNY Press, New York (1999) ISBN 0-7914-4303-5.

'The Ethics of 21st Century Bioinformatics: Ethical Implications of the Vanishing Distinction between Biological Information and Other Information' in Ruth Chadwick and Alison Thompson (Editors) - Genetic Information Acquisition, Access, and Control. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York (1998) ISBN 0-306-46052-1.

'Ethical decision-making in science and technology' in Brenda Almond (Editor), Introducing applied ethics, Blackwell, Oxford (1995) ISBN 0-631-19389-8.

'Accountability: the obligation to lay oneself open to criticism' in Ruth Chadwick (Editor), Ethics and the Professions, Avebury, Aldershot (1994) ISBN 1-85628-632-0.


Holdsworth, Dick and Lake, Gordon: 'Integrating Europe: The new R&D calculus', Science and Public Policy, Vol. 15, No. 6, December 1988, pp. 411-25.

Conference presentations

‘Behavioural genomics: one discipline or many?’ to the Spring Regional Meeting of the Postgraduate Forum on Genetics and Society (PFGS) on ‘Genetics and behaviour: from the science to society’, Institute for Advanced Studies, Lancaster University, 19 April 2010.

'The knowledge-based society: an education in itself', paper delivered to the 20th annual conference of the Society for Applied Philosophy, Oxford, 29 June 2002.

'Consciousness, Work and Sleep'; poster presentation to ASSC6 Conference (Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness), Barcelona, 1 June 2002.

'Summary of the Workshop: National and Transnational Technology and Infrastructural Systems' (Report to the plenary as Chairman of the Workshop), Proceedings of the 3rd European Congress on Technology Assessment, Copenhagen, 4-7 November 1992, 2 vols., published by the Danish Board of Technology (Teknologi Nævnet), Antonigade 4, DK-1106 Copenhagen K, Denmark.

Research Interests

My research at Egenis was in the philosophy of behavioural genomics. The future development of research in genomics can be expected to give rise to claims to knowledge about the origins of human behaviour. My project was to devise a conceptual map of the research domain in which specific claims to knowledge can be located. I analysed the classification criteria that might enable such a map to be made. This involved examining and comparing the research agendas of different scientific disciplines.

My interest in the implications of genomics derives partly from my involvement in technology assessment (TA) and applied philosophy. TA analyses the impact of science and technology on society, the economy and the environment. Applied philosophy is the analysis of philosophical problems arising from real-world situations. These arise often - but not only - in the biomedical context.

In the philosophy of science, I am also interested in the ontology of information. When we talk about ’information’ in the context of the computer, are we talking about the same thing as ’information’ in the context of biology? Recent developments in genomics and bioinformatics make this a rewarding area of study. The issue is also relevant to certain problems in the philosophy of mind.