Multiple Roles and Successes in Public Bioethics: A Response to the Public Forum Critique of Bioethics Commissions
Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 2006 June; 16(2): 173-188
National bioethics commissions have been critiqued for a variety of structural, procedural, and political aspects of their work. A more recent critique published by Dzur and Levin uses political philosophy to constructively critique the work of national bioethics commissions as public deliberative forums. However, this public forum critique of bioethics commissions ignores empirical research in political science and normative claims that suggest that advisory commissions can and should have diverse of functions beyond that of being public forums. The present paper argues that the public forum critique too narrowly considers the roles that bioethics commissions can play in public bioethics and ignores the moral obligation of commissions to fulfill their mandates. Evaluations of commissions must consider that these institutions can serve in capacities other than those of a public deliberative forum and use additional measures to evaluate the multiple roles and successes of bioethics commissions in public policy.
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