Bioethics and the New Wave

Leon Kass’s Reflections on Public Bioethics: A view from the Trenches looks to explain what the councils mission was, how it worked with the public, and review the final outcome of the Council’s first term. Leon Kass breaks down his remarks into three parts: the discussion of some special features of public bioethics, overview of the highlights of the Councils work, and some general observations. He starts with the Council’s Public Ways, explaining how the council was created and defending that they were indeed a public body subject to “public scrutiny”. Leon continues detailing that this committee was different than most as it was tasked with a very morally controversial subject in the midst of a president whose presidency was already under fire for how he was elected, along with very strong conservative and religious ties. The council was also different, as it wasn’t tasked by just asking the morality and justification for stem cell research, but rather 5 main functions. It seemed to me that the council was tasked with not only giving it’s advisory on cloning research, but giving it’s remarks on the state of bioethics, and how this specific technology would affect bioethics as a whole. However, outside of the philosophical discussion, Kass also mentions that the council needed to promote public discourse of the issue to allow for the general public to be able to comprehend the issue at large. I found it kind of ironic though because while one of the councils objectives were to inform the public, the makeup of the council was not indicative of the population. As we discussed in class it predominately was made up of all white males. This only became more ironic as Kass went on to identify the types of individuals who were on the panel. None the less, Kass continues to defend the members of its council by continuing to describe the diversity of it’s panel and discrediting any notion that the panel was a “hyper-politicized group of right-wing fundamentalists, seeking to impose pro-life views on the nation”. I thought this was amusing because he was basically labeled such in Ruth Macklin’s article. As Kass continued to defend the council and it’s task, I couldn’t help but wonder, why weren’t these explanations of the council included in the original paper? Surely, they could’ve anticipated the backlash that could’ve come from such an issue, and since informing the public was one of the main goals of the council, why not highlight these points in the preface?

Kass than goes onto the second point of the Councils work. Kass insists that he is very proud of the council and it’s work, and tries to give a summary and evaluation of what they did, as all the 5 published works of the council “try to embody our search for a richer bioethics”. Kass outlines each of the 5 publications starting with Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry. Given that this was the one we read for class, I will primarily focus on it. Kass gives the 5 major features of the report starting with “the larger human contexts in which controversies over this innovation must be considered”. Following this, the next feature is that surrounding terminology of “human cloning”. I thought this was particularly interesting because last week as a class we struggled to differentiate the difference between “cloning-to-produce-children” and “cloning-for-biomedical-research” which Kass neatly outlines in this section. The third point outlines how the council unanimously opposed cloning to produce children. I found their reasoning suspect, as they say, “it never could be attempted safely”, which I think is honestly ignorant, however their following arguments were more convincing. The fourth feature gets into the meat of the subject by displaying the diversity that the council had on determining if cloning-for-biomedical-research should be allowed and deemed morally all right. Both sides of the argument are coherently and well displayed in the brief, not giving a conclusion on the matter, which I thought was appropriate given the purpose of the council. Finally, they offered proposals for a permanent ban on cloning to produce children, while the consensus varied on cloning for medical research.

Lastly, Kass talks about the general observations and challenges that came about. Kass concludes that their works success is not truly known, other than the fact that it has made some noise. I personally believe that since it created such a response, that it was successful in bringing the topic into the spotlight. Kass thinks that the success in terms of policy making fell short, as he remarks that it is “hard to educate anyone about an issue unless you are prepared to tell them what they ought to do”. The last thing I noticed was Kass arguing that the “life principle”, although an important issue and one that is highly publicized, is not the only issue that should be considered in public bioethical discourse. I found it more intriguing given his label as a conservative bioethicist. Ultimately, since these councils publishing are over 15 years old, I want to know what has changed since then? Has this council impacted the way we engage discourse about bioethics and morality? Also, has the stance on cloning for reproduction, and cloning for research changed since then?


The next reading was The New Conseratives In Bioethics: Who Are They and What Do They Seek? By Ruth Macklin. This articles is just what the title is, discussing the new conservative movement in bioethics, who are the proponents, and what are their positions. Macklin argues that this new wave is being branded by bioethicists who self-proclaim themselves as “conservatives”, consequently causing all those that oppose them to be liberals. However, Macklin claims that this isn’t the case. Since there are “an array of widely divergent and often nuanced positions”, just because a bioethicist disagrees with a conservative should not make them by default liberal. The new wave of self-proclaimed conservatives differ from those past like Leon Kass who she mentions. This new wave are opponents against biotechnology with any term “artificial”. They also are against any reproductive freedom such as abortion and stem cell research that involves destruction of human embryos. Her main point spotlights that it is very difficult to pinpoint broad views on these issues into two categories of either conservative or liberal. She cites the FINRRAGE as an example of a group having very radical ideas that could be labeled conservative, but is not necessarily so. The ultimate argument is that not only are the lines blurred now, but shifts throughout history have also made the categorization very difficult. Macklin then shifts to the specific “mission” of the new conservatives, which is, “to prevent our transformation into a culture without awe filled with people without souls”. Macklin also points out that these conservative bioethicists claim that their points are 100% true, which is nonsense. Macklin then moves on to the faults that the new conservatives have such as not relying on empirical evidence and sound arguments, but rather “metaphors and slogans”. Given the evidence that Macklin presents against this new wave, why doesn’t Macklin just go out on a limb and proclaim that these “conservative bioethicist” aren’t bioethicist at all? If such arguments are grounded it weak metaphors, slogans, and absence of critiques of opponents, what gives them any credibility in the grand scheme? Macklin presents the same case by saying, “the latter are  not  bioethicists  at  all.  They are  something  else—social  critics, perhaps—who  rely  on  dramatic impact  and  rhetorical  persuasion  rather than  rational  argument  to  convince their  readers.” However, she mentions refuting them is a mistake as it is possible to be “a bioethicist and also a social critic”.


What I found to be of particular interest were the ways the conservatives deployed their arguments against opponents, many of which relate to how President Trump handles his opponents. It makes me think that since Trump had such success with it, will these conservative Bioethicists have a strong pull over the public? I guess the last thing to be asked about this article is it possible to bridge the gap between mainstream bioethicists and conservatives?




16 Replies to “Bioethics and the New Wave”

  1. Cole,

    Excellent post brother. I like how you mentioned the composition of the Kass reading prior to your analysis as it helped me visualize your thought process. Kass’s smart critique of certain special features of public bioethics, as well as his discussion of key highlights of the council’s work, and general observations is exactly how I would have summed it up. The council was clearly created in a time of clear political controversy and I think this definitely influenced how people regarded their work, and also how they went about conducting their work. It can be very hard to remain unbiased when working on such a controversial thing such as bioethics, and I think this key aspect definitely played a part in the council remaining a tad bit reserved in a sense.

    Furthermore, I really agreed with Kass in how he suggested that the council needed to promote public discussion and conversation of the greater issues surrounding the bioethics debate. In doing this the council could have really allowed people to understand the debate and just make something as complicated as bioethics a tangible idea. Lastly, I think it is possible to bridge the gap between mainstream bioethicisits and conservatives. It’s just going to take an extremely large amount of time and effort. I’m a strong believer that any differences can be mended, it’s just a matter of going about it in the right way, and having the right person in charge of spearheading the mission.

  2. Hey Cole,

    Good post. I like how you conveyed how you personally felt after this week’s readings.

    I agree with your viewpoint that it’s absurd to think that cloning to produce children could never be attempted safely, as I stated in my blog post last week. I think it’s definitely possible to successfully and safely clone a human once cloning of dogs, rats, and other animals are perfected.

    As for your criticisms of the council makeup, the original book did list brief bios of the council members, along with their viewpoints on the specific topics that they deliberated on. I’m sure one of the reasons Kass wrote this week’s reading was to address those claims more in depth. I liked the tie in of Kass with Macklin. In terms of Kass’ claim that their work was not truly known, I would tend to agree. My explanation for that would be that the publisher’s audience is “public service to inform scholars, policymakers, and the public,” and as a result won’t reach many people outside of politics unless someone just really fascinated by cloning. I don’t think scientific literacy is very high in this country in general (obviously, it’s much higher in a place like Emory and other universities, but the majority of the public don’t have a college education) and that serves as a huge hindrance to the readership of the book. Although there’s a lot of information on the science behind cloning, many people like to avoid learning things they don’t know but are quick to judge it at face value.

  3. Thanks for your blog post, Cole.

    It’s interesting consider how certain issues are framed and presented. Typically, this involves putting two ideas at odds with one another; for example, pro-life and pro-choice, liberal and conservative, techno-optimists and techno-skeptics. There isn’t a single perspective or way of framing that is “right” and it would be ignorant to believe one perspective is all encompassing. I agree that we need to provide more room for nuance in our understandings. Additionally, I do not believe that all differences need to be mended (if they can even be mended). There are valid reasons why people hold opposing views and cannot be compromised. It is impossible to hold a truly neutral and unbiased position when talking about bioethics. The best we can do is acknowledge our biases and begin critically thinking with awareness of our biases. This bias exists within the framework of arguments as well. The way debates are framed will direct how people respond and talk about issues.

    On a separate note, I’m not sure what you mean when you say, “Macklin also points out that these conservative bioethicists claim that their points are 100% true, which is nonsense.” Could you please clarify? To me, it sounds like you’re privileging one type of evidence over another – empirical (scientific?) evidence over a religious and spiritual explanation/evidence. Are you trying to say that references to the soul are metaphorical and have no credibility? Again, I’m not sure that I follow your ideas in that paragraph.

  4. Thanks for the posts this week.

    The topic for this week was certainly a thought-provoking one. Who gets to decide what reproductive policies should be implemented? What’s at stake for the people on the committee and the population they are representing?
    Kass, having served as the chair to the President’s Council of Bioethics, rebukes many of the claims lobbed by journalists and other critics at the decision of the Council. He notes that while the people staffing the Council are all people of different walks of life (lawyers, scientists, “humanists”), none of them are bioethicists – despite operating as the Council of Bioethics. Kass goes on to note that he and his staff collaborated to make a comprehensive outlook addressing the cloning-to-reproduce versus cloning-for-medicine approaches and the alternatives. One alternative I found very interesting was the minority vote to heavily restrict cloning-for-medicine. It’s a much lighter policy than a strict ban on all funding towards cloning, and like we discussed in class, could end up benefiting legislature to better regulate the technology when it eventually becomes a feasible reality.
    Kass’s personal perspective on the topic is quite interesting given the class discussion on the type of person he was and what his personal stakes were. It’s insightful to hear how he defends his position and the decision the Council made.

    Macklin’s essay analyzed some of the rhetoric of the “conservative” and “liberal” arguments labelled on positions people adopt on the topic of embryonic technology and cloning. She highlighted the several notable rhetorical devices of the “conservatives,” especially Kass: mean-spirited rhetoric (mislabeling technology as eugenics), appeals to emotion, and poetic language. Pamela, I am led to believe Cole misunderstood Macklin’s criticism – the author is just noting that some of the “conservative” (and also liberal!) argument rejects rationalism in favor of “heartfelt intuition.” Macklin notes that in a bioethics debate, public policy should be influenced by reasoned debate and not the “wisdom of repugnance.” Much of Macklin’s essay seems at odds with Kass’s, and it’s interesting to see how Macklin points out the flaws in Kass’s arguments as well as the arguments of the opposing side.

    Braun’s report also reflects on the dynamics of the bioethics debate, though she defines them more along the lines of techno-optimists and techno-skeptics. Techno-optimists are focused on a balance of values that can clarify and structure policy in a way that help not only policymakers but the research community. Techno-skeptics are focused primarily on the costs of technology – that limiting technology might be better for societal self-determination. Given the context of Macklin’s essay, it might be easy to label respective groups as liberals and conservatives, but the two sides are slightly more nuanced than political labels.
    For example, techno-skeptics favor women’s right to abortions, but not a researcher destroying surplus embryos.
    The dynamics and “sides” one must adopt in a debate is complicated and labels can rarely be a one-size fit all model, but I feel as though Braun captures the divisiveness of the debate better than just “conservative” and “liberal.”

  5. Cole,
    Thank you for your thoughtful, thorough blog! As you mention early in your post, Kass prefaces the council’s discussion with some remarks about the public nature of the council as well as the heated controversy that often surrounds the topic of bioethics. Kass’s writing feels incredibly impassioned and almost discredits some of his other writing that we discussed last week. I feel that if the counsel were completely confident in the thoroughness of their original postings, Kass wouldn’t have been so inclined to issue another writing in defense of the others. Though it is understandable that Kass would like to create a larger image for the counsel outside of what he refers to as “embryoville”, his spiteful word choice and informal defense of the counsel feels a bit clumsy. Perhaps Kass is hoping to explain the counsel’s discussions in a more pedestrian manner in an attempt to persuade the “lesser informed” public that he believes to be strongly opposing them?

    A common thread between both Macklin and Braun’s articles is the idea of unnecessary polarization between “conservative” and “liberal” views on bioethics. What Braun labels as “techno-skeptics” and “techno-optimists” provides a perspective on differing views that she describes as a “split [that] does not coincide with a liberal‐conservative or left‐right divide; it runs across party lines and across the left‐right division.” Your question on whether or not we should proclaim “conservative bioethicists” to be ill-informed and therefore forfeit their bioethicist status is very interesting. It is important to uphold a set of quality standards for those looking to claim the ethical wherewithal to discuss important issues such as bioethics. However, there is no denying the growing strength of conservative bioethical views and, in the eyes of policymaking, perhaps it is unfair to discredit their stance.

  6. Hi Cole,

    Thanks for an excellent blog post!

    I’d like to start by questioning why you thought the council to be “ignorant” in saying that cloning to produce children safely is not possible. I agree that it is possible to do it safely, however, I also think that the council was aware of further issues down the line that could be deemed as unsafe. For example, I think they were concerned for how out-of-hand cloning would become should people be able to do it to produce children. While I do not necessarily agree with their view on this topic, I do not think the council acted out of ignorance on the topic.

    I also liked how you laid out Macklin’s argument. You clearly showed how she is against defining people’s opinions about bioethics into either conservative or liberal. I do find her critique of conservatives to be a bit harsh. I agree that factual evidence needs to be used, but bioethics is a complicated social issue as well. Perhaps “conservatives” do a better job in demonstrating this side of the debate while “liberals” do a better job focusing in on the scientific and factual debate. I personally think that both of these debates are important but only pieces of the puzzle. They should be combined to establish a full argument

  7. Hi Cole,

    Thanks for this post. I, too, wondered why Kass’s essay this week wasn’t included as an addendum or part of the actual report we read last week to President Bush and later for the public. It is important to realize, however, that many people in the United States have never had to think about a controversial topic such as cloning. Involving the President’s opinions and suggesting political change makes cloning strangely personal for the first time, and voters enter into their own ethical dilemmas as they consider future candidates for office. Informing the public on matters of cloning and reproductive technology will be a long and complicated process. The report itself is not written in the most accessible language. We read articles on reproductive technologies as students at Emory with advanced abilities to identify evidence and make educated judgements. Others in the United States do not have such a privileged view. The council’s report is just the tip of the iceberg in future issues of cloning and reproductive technology. This also contributes to Kass’s sentiments that the council’s work is not truly known. Lack of a general population’s education on matters of cloning as well as murky conclusions offered in the report do not help his case.

    Turning now to Macklin’s article, you ask if it is possible to bridge the gap between mainstream bioethicists and conservatives. I don’t know how possible it might be to “bridge” a gap of difference and hope for a consensus. I am personally thinking about the value Macklin places on conservatives’ beliefs towards new biotechnology. Macklin states, “For some [conservatives], regulation to guard against concrete harms to identifiable persons represents an impoverished, consequentialist approach to policy-making” (Macklin 37). She then later notes that “If the conservatives reject an appeal ‘to a clear and explicit rational argument,’ then there is no way that allegedly liberal bioethicists can respond to what they write” (Macklin 42). A deeper matter of significance in this debate might be the validity of each group’s arguments. Macklin undermines the value of conservatives’ beliefs throughout this essay by using language that negatively compares them to liberal, “practical” goals that mainstream bioethics should reflect. Perhaps a way to bridge the gap between mainstream bioethicists and conservatives for the time being might be to approach each argument with equal value – for in complicated debates such as these, there is no correct answer yet.

  8. Hi Cole,

    Thank you for the post. I appreciate your engagement with the main ideas and points made in Kass’s and Macklin’s papers. I agree with you that I too find irony in Kass’s claim that the council should promote and engage in conversation regarding the issue due to the nature of the stances the council made and how they were presented. While I do believe the report successfully stirred discussion, I also took issue with the makeup of the council and found it hard to believe that the local moral worlds of various individuals (more than those who made up the council) were taken into consideration in discussion. I thought of this claim in direct conflict with Braun’s paper, which purposefully addressed her perceived issues within American bioethics and offered a potential solution to try. As we talked about in class, the German bioethical debate is central to the difference in opinion of who should make decisions – experts or the public. I found Kass’s claim here to be difficult to categorize in Braun’s descriptions. As you said, Kass claimed that one objective of the council was to inform the public to promote public discourse. In my opinion, this still assumed that the council – the experts – were informing the public, and that the public had little agency in policy making but are still invited to talk about ideas and opinions. I felt that this idea sits in the middle of the dichotomy that Braun introduces, playing to the positives of both frameworks.

  9. Hi Chloe! Thank you for the summary and commentary on this week’s readings. I think Kass did a good job of highlighting how the committee was in a vulnerable position of being “stacked” or biased towards conservative morals. I think Kass made a convincing argument that the committee was a diverse group of individuals that were not experts or bioethicists, but rather a collection of valuable and credible opinions. Now whether we can agree or disagree with this claim is up for discussion. As we discussed in class, the committee was mostly white men, so while their professions may be diverse, their demographic was certainly not. What kind of influence does demographics have in bioethics? I think the reading by Macklin captures the modern discourse on reproductive technologies. Those against any type of “artificial” reproductive technologies are labeled as conservative, and everyone else is therefore liberal. I cannot say that this is the most productive way of viewing two opposite opinions that do not necessarily have direct ties to politics, because conservative are often viewed as stubborn and confining. Liberal opinions are often viewed as freeing and uncontained. As we have seen in other readings/cultures, the association with conservative politics may often be blurred when kinship comes into play. However, several instances throughout the reading made it clear what Kass’s opinions regarding cloning and stem cell research were. Despite his claim that “Although individual Council members weighed these concerns differently, quite remarkably we all agreed that each side in this debate is defending something vital to us all: the goodness of knowledge and healing and the goodness of human life at all its stages”, it was apparent he is conservative in his views. He made a point to explain the issues brought up in the debate much more than the positives brought up in the debate.

  10. Hi Cole,
    Great post overall. You did a great job summarizing the readings and incorporating your personal thoughts into it. One point that I disagree with is that cloning-to-produce children cannot be attempted safely is ignorant. Recently, we have mapped the whole human genome, but there is still a large part of it that we do not understand and who knows how long it will take to find out. Additionally, the safety of the experiment is not only whether a successful child is born but also if it develops normally. Humans have such a long life span that one lifetime of research is not enough to understand it. Lastly, just because something works in animals does not mean it will directly translate to humans. Clinical trials are a prime example of this because even though a drug works in mice or animals, it does not mean that it will work in humans. While I am not saying it is impossible, we are currently decades or even centuries away from being able to conduct such experiments safely.
    One point of yours that I agreed with was that facts are important for bioethics. One of Kass’s goals was to better inform then public and promote discourse which I feel will greatly help differentiate between the arguments of conservatives and liberals. I feel that the crux of the issue lies in the abundance of misinformation out there that makes it easy for public opinions to be swayed incorrectly. However, I feel that even with a promotion of public discourse, the conflict of society/culture and science will still exist.

  11. Thank you for a great post, Cole. I thought you analyzed very well and I appreciated your opinions on the matter. I also agreed with Kass’s argument that the council was one discussing the issue in order to inform the public on what cloning is and what it means to the population. However, you are correct in saying that the council did not necessarily represent the entire population as a whole. While the council did consist of educated men and women, the representation was not balanced and could have been more diverse. In order to answer your question on whether or not the stance on cloning for reproduction has changed since this committee made its decisions, I think it is important to do research on the council today and to research conservative and liberal views on the matter. While government funding is still not allowed for research on cloning, I believe that this viewpoint will definitely change in the near future as technology continues to increase and scientists are able to perform this procedure more safely.

  12. Hi Cole, thanks for a great post! I particularly enjoyed reading your commentary about Ruth Macklin’s article. I thought it highlighted a lot of the topics that we have touched on in class but never fully delved into. Her discussion of the rhetorical tactics employed by the new conservatives is one that we have seen discussed in the past– the idea of the “gut reaction” and its level of importance was brought up in last week’s readings (I can’t remember which one). The conservative argument preys on sensationalism rather than logical argument, and we can watch this play out in bioethics discussions as well as general political discussions. Maybe I was overanalyzing, but I read Kass’s article after Macklin’s and I was able to see some of the same rhetorical strategies that she mentioned. His paper felt very sensationalized and poetic, and I actually found it a bit odd that he was responding in this way to the criticisms of the council. By placing yourself in a position so directly in the spotlight, you are opening yourself up to all kinds of attention, good and bad, especially when that spotlight is in politics.

    To respond specifically to your question, Cole, I do think the new conservative approach to bioethics is one that would appeal to the general population. It preys on those buzz words, the ones that invoke the “gut feelings” about morality, what is natural, and the course of humanity. I think this article highlights the importance of research when formulating political thought, regardless of what group you self identify with.

  13. Cole,

    Thank you for your post. I really liked the detail with which you summarized and analyzed Leon Kass’s work. I agreed with you and Jeffrey that reproductive cloning presents a lot of danger to the child; however, I would caution Jeffrey that even when cloning can be safely conducted in other mammals, that does not ensure that human cloning would succeed. Even if human cloning was successful, there are ethical issues with such a process. Simply because something can be conducted on animals does not mean it should be conducted on humans; look to animal experimentation as an example. The popular opinion in our society is that humans are fundamentally different than other animals or organisms due to various factors such as our consciousness, use of language, and our cognitive abilities.

    Going back to Kass’s work, I think Niyati did a great job in her blog post summarizing what Kass argued to defend the council. Kass emphasizes repeatedly in his argument that the council was not one of bioethicists but rather one on bioethics. As we discussed in class last week, it is important to examine the background of the council members, and it is clear that while the vast majority of them are Christian, white men, they come from a variety of academic backgrounds. I think that while the committee could have been more diverse, it is hard to fault Leon Kass or the President for the makeup of a committee since it was the first of its kind. No one on the committee likely had experience with such a group.

  14. Thank you to both of the bloggers for great posts. Niyati, your concluding question reminds me of our discussion last week with Berkowitz, who posited that multiple interpretations of the notion of man being made in the “image of God” can either lead to pro-medical intervention or anti-medical intervention.
    “Balancing diverging values” is a powerful notion that also encapsulates this aforementioned tension. “A certain type of discourse must be present” shows that we cannot simply reduce the matter to just one view or the other, but that this situation is complex and must be evaluated from numerous perspectives. That, of course, is a recurring theme and main point of this course.
    Ironically, I’d like to hone in on one of the discussions that Cole mentioned by evaluating the new conservative take as proposed by Macklin. At first glance, it seems like this position contains much nuance, as their whole pitch is to ensure that humans have a sophisticated outlook on their place in the world. Yet, in my opinion, this absolutism of the anti-technology approach is problematic as it inherently ostracizes those who are open to a photo-technological society. My question is whether it’s possible to create humans with a sophisticated understanding of their humanness while also leaving the door open for technological intervention where necessary. This ties back to the earlier part of my comment about Berkowitz, as well as what I believe to be another result of this course in more complex discussions of and conceptions of uses of medical technology. Thanks again to both of you.

  15. I want to build off of Daniel’s comment, particularly the part regarding political controversy and its effect on a person’s working perspective. As noted, bioethics is a very controversial topic, and it’s quite difficult to eliminate any bias that may naturally be present. Similar to Daniel’s view, I took think that this highly debatable topic played a tremendous influence in the reservations of the council.

    Kass’ suggestion of more public discussion is also something that could provide positive impacts on society’s perspective of these various bioethical issues. While this is the case, it’s important to make sure that the publicists of this information refrain from any agenda-setting or framing of any sorts as that will only feed the fire that separates conservatives from bioethicists. Due to the political influence of this situation, groups will be inclined to capture the audience’s attention in such a way that it is convincing; however, it is absolutely vital that the information released to the public is truthful, complete, and unbiased.

  16. Hello Cole!

    Excellent post, I really appreciated the time you put into it.

    Like you, I think the diversity of the panel is important, both in terms of background and discipline. While here I think diversity of discipline should be prioritized slightly over other types of diversity, reading Braun’s article brought into light another type of diversity I think is crucial to consider.

    Braun comments about how she sees two “different ideas about how to link ethics to politics: the managerial discourse and the republican discourse. The term “discourse” has the double sense here both of a set of assumptions, ideas, and concepts through which meaning is given to a phenomenon, and an activity of discussion or debate” (44). This diversity is not directly tied to party lines or discipline in Germany (maybe more so in the United States) and frames the question of bioethics and new technologies as either techno-skeptic or techno-optimist. As Macklin points out, the polarization of bioethics discourse in political camps misconstrues the positions of those not falling at the political poles and instead of looking at the political affiliations of each committee member and deeming them conservative or liberal, we could instead look at their works and try to deem if they are techno-skeptic or techno-optimist. This may (or may not) show that while the committee appears equal in political ideological weights, all members are skeptics or vice versa.

    Ultimately, just as we argue that disciplinary diversity is important, so should diversity in orientation towards new technologies. Discipline and technological orientation do not directly correlate to political positions (although current discourse can make them seem polarized and politicized) and more than just the background and political affiliation of each member should be considered.

    Thanks again Cole!


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