Rationality and religion in the public debate on embryo stem cell research and prenatal diagnostics
Myskja, Bjørn K.
Medicine, Health Care, and Philosophy 2009 May; 12(2): 213-224
Jürgen Habermas has argued that religious views form a legitimate background for contributions to an open public debate, and that religion plays a particular role in formulating moral intuitions. Translating religious arguments into "generally accessible language" (Habermas, Eur J Philos 14(1):1-25, 2006) to enable them to play a role in political decisions is a common task for religious and non-religious citizens. The article discusses Habermas' view, questioning the particular role of religion, but accepting the significance of including such counter-voices to the predominant views. Furthermore it is pointed out that not only religious but also numerous secular views stand in need of translation to be able to bear on policy matters. Accepting Habermas' general framework, I raise the question whether experts (such as clinicians working in relevant specialised areas of care) participating in political debates on biomedical issues have a duty to state their religious worldview, and to what extent the American government decision to restrict embryo stem cell research is an illegitimate transgression of the State-Church divide.
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