I have long suspected the bioethics movement wishes to have decisional power over public policy. Now, over at the Hastings Center Website, comes the suggestion that bioethicists should–perhaps (overt advocacy in the field is always couched)–be given more power. From the column by Eric Meslin:
Rather than wringing our hands about whether the next commission should be pragmatic or philosophical, consensus seekers or “deep engagers,” maybe it’s time to ask whether, after three decade of national commissions, the need for bioethics advice has matured to the point where we are prepared to establish standing commissions that span administrations; or to give commissions authority to adjudicate on issues, argue for them, or compel replies to them by affected agencies.
Just as it is foolish to ask whether placebos are ethical – when the proper question is whether a placebo is ethically justified for answering this research question — maybe it is time for our next bioethics commission to be given the flexibility to adapt its methods and approaches to the topics themselves. Might there be consensus on this?
Within the field, no doubt. But I vote absolutely not! Nor do I think the people of this country want philosophers–who generally believe in personhood theory or quality of life medical decision-making–to have any direct or indirect decisional power over their lives.