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The US President's Council on Bioethics: modeling a thicker knowledge politics

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This article argues that the “thicker” moral inquiry modeled by the US President's Council on Bioethics is a significant and valuable innovation in knowledge politics. It first distinguishes two kinds of knowledge politics - active deciding vs. thinking and talking. The focus here is on the latter. The article then introduces some relevant historical background. Next, it indicates how prior bioethics committees in the US practised a “thin” version of knowledge politics that both reflected and consolidated typical ways of thinking and talking about biomedical technology. The article then argues that, because of the non-neutrality of technology, a thin knowledge politics is neither sufficient nor necessary for liberal democratic governments concerned to understand and manage emerging technologies. The last section uses a Council report to illustrate the benefits of a thicker knowledge politics.

Keywords: US Council; bioethics; biomedical technology; knowledge politics

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of Twente, Twente, The Netherlands

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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