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New study: Bioethics as "the ethics of the scientific establishment"

Genetic Crossroads
December 17th, 2002

A team of European scholars has published a survey
and analysis of European bioethics committees. They conclude:
"[T]he institutionalisation of bioethics raises serious
problems concerning the development of public debate in the
field of bioethics. In particular, there is the serious danger
of suppressing the diversity of ethical opinions traditionally
expressed within our societies, and, instead, imposing upon
society the 'ethics of the scientific establishment.'"

The authors note that the establishment of official
bioethics committees in Europe came largely at the request of
the scientific community, and that scientists and others connected
with scientific research are disproportionately represented
on these committees. The authors point to the Danish Council
on Ethics (DER), with its extensive use of public consensus
conferences, as a welcome exception.

See Jean-Christopje Galloux et al., "The
Institutions of Bioethics," in Biotechnology: The Making
of a Global Controversy
, Martin Bauer and George Gaskell,
eds., Cambridge University Press, London, 2002.

For background on the bioethics discourse, see


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