|Blogs||Articles||Organizations||Biography||Jack's Book||Contact Information||Links|
Navigation: SOS Sisson > Life Ethics Blog
Jack Sisson's Life Ethics Blog
We must find new ways through many ethical issues, especially regarding bioethics, medical ethics, and criminal justice. Jack Sisson's 'Life Ethics' blog focuses on numerous areas of concern, including the philosophical and ethical dilemmas surrounding stem-cell research, abortion, medical research, and health care.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
Common Sense Meets Hard Heads
It's not exactly fresh news, but I have just come across a very interesting column by William Saletan, on the Slate Web site. The headline: "Rights and Wrongs: Liberals, progressives, and biotechnology."
Saletan identifies himself as a liberal, for what it's worth -- although he doesn't do so until a good way down into the column:
...what makes me think I'm still a liberal? I guess it's a stubborn belief that liberalism isn't whatever dogmas currently possess this or that lefty camp. Liberalism is an admission of uncertainty. It's open to self-correction and to the complexity and unpredictability of life.What's interesting about the column in general is that he uses it to take certain "liberal" bioethicists (or those who support them, without being bioethicists themselves) to task for, well, their illiberalism:
I have problems with liberals. A lot of them talk about religion as though it's a communicable disease. Some are amazingly obtuse to other people's qualms. They show no more interest in an embryo than in a skin cell. It's like I'm picking up a radio signal and they're not. I'd think I was crazy, except that a few billion other people seem to be picking up the same signal. At most liberal bioethics conferences, the main question in dispute, in one form or another, is whether to be more afraid of capitalism or religion.But -- lest the reader think he's about to stab his liberal colleagues in the back -- Saletan offers up a deft summation of a common-sense approach not only to stem-cell research, but to many related science-vs.-religion controversies (emphasis added):
I don't even like the idea of taking a general position on biotechnology. The field is just too big and complicated to fit an ideology. In science, things change much more radically than in politics. One month, we're screening embryos for diseases, and everybody's happy. The next month, we're screening embryos for their suitability as tissue donors, and everybody's queasy. One year, ethanol is a corn product and makes no sense. The next year, it's a switchgrass product and makes a lot of sense. I like having the freedom to soak my head in a new topic and come out saying the opposite of what I expected. Committing to a political identity would just get in the way.In general, the column neatly repudiates the idea that supporting -- or decrying -- a field of scientific study has anything to do with common sense. You can take one position or another, based on one thing or another, but it makes no sense to (a) require a litmus test of someone's beliefs on the issue in order to label them as either a good liberal or a good conservative, or (b) claim that you yourself are a good liberal or a good conservative because of your beliefs on a given issue. Not just bioethics, but life at large, is just too big and complicated to reduce it to a range of acceptable yes and no opinions.
Roe v. Wade
Stem Cell Fight!
Bush the hypocrite
June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 December 2005 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 March 2009 November 2009 April 2010 October 2010 April 2011 May 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013