[Paleopsych] CBC: Nigel M. de S. Cameron: How we Lost "Bioethics" and How We Can Win it Back (and more)
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Fri Jul 29 15:48:24 UTC 2005
Nigel M. de S. Cameron: How we Lost "Bioethics" and How We Can Win it Back
The Weekly Newsletter of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network
Remember the anguished hand-wringing in the 50s over Who lost China? Well, the
biggest question facing Americans today is: Who lost bioethics?
Because lost it we have. "Bioethics," a made-up word from the early 70s, covers
everything from abortion to euthanasia to stem cells and cloning. It's the
debate about medicine and ethics and biology and public policy.
It's also a pseudo-profession, culled from the ranks of philosophers and docs
and biology profs that gives them their 15 minutes of fame on network TV.
Guru-in-chief is Art Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania and his wannabe
successor Glenn McGee, whose six-figure book deal shows his star quality.
Caplan is a charming man, smart, suave, and when I have debated him, sometimes
given to surprising candor. One time an anchor translated my more measured
terms and asked him if an egregious pro-cloning statement by Michael West (who
claimed to have cloned the first US human embryos) was b*** s***. He had the
decency to agree.
And he is influential. When the United Nations started its 3-year debate on
human cloning I was invited to serve as bioethics adviser on the US delegation.
Guess which American the UN itself invited to be the cloning "expert" who
lectured representatives of every nation in the world as part of a five-member
Arthur Caplan is the quintessential face of contemporary bioethics. Yet he does
not in any way represent the American people. How did bioethics get so out of
whack with the people? How did it switch from a Hippocratic focus on the
sanctity of life to a public relations department for whatever the biotech
industry wants to do next?
In the wide-ranging book on The Secular Revolution (edited by Christian Smith,
2003), one chapter lets John H. Evans explain the bioethics story - how
something so close to the hearts of religious Americans on such vital issues
ended up almost entirely in the hands of the secular elite.
One central problem, of course, is that we walked out. There is no question
that a chief agent of secularization in American culture has been
"conservative" Christians. They have withdrawn from the fray faster than anyone
has pushed them out. And there is no better example than in the field of
bioethics. If here, where human life is most immediately at stake - and where
we have deployed such energetic political and caring resources to the question
of abortion - we have failed to develop expertise and leadership, is it a
surprise that in other areas of the culture we keep sensing that we are losing
it? this article will be continued next week
The Human Future:
What is "the human future?" What does it mean? When there are enough issues
crowding into our daily lives as it is, why should we think about such a
seemingly irrelevant philosophical discussion as our "human future?"
Well, because as Dr. Cameron so poignantly pointed out above, the issues
related to the taking, making, and faking of human life are the issues that
will dominate the 21st Century. These are not philosophical in nature. These
issues are at the forefront of the scientific communities' agenda and have the
potential for doing much good and much harm. Much good, by relieving human
suffering, and much harm by devaluing the inherent dignity of all human beings.
Unfortunately, if you have been following the news lately you will see how a
utilitarian based science has dominated the discussion. These articles on
Eugenics, Euthanasia, Stem Cell Research, and Egg Donation are
only a few to show you that much is at stake for "The Human Future."
"The Human Future," then, is about raising the red flag when human dignity is
at stake, and it is about grounding science in moral responsibility. Even more
importantly, it is about celebrating the beauty and complexity of human life in
all of its various stages from the zygote to the death bed and in that way
securing a human future for us and the generations beyond us.
CBC is about equipping people to face the challenges of the 21st Century and we
use all the tools necessary to raise awareness about these issues. We host
events, debates, we offers resources and much more. We offer you as many
opportunities as we can to engage yourself and those you know in these
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