Friday, 20 June 2008

Can ethics be independent?

In the latest edition of Science in Parliament, The Baroness Warnock and Professor Lord Alton of Liverpool present conflicting views on the formation of a National Human Bioethics Commission. While Warnock argues that ‘such a body is unnecessary, and would be both expensive and possibly damaging in its effects’ and could conflict with existing bodies, HFEA and the Nuffield Council for Bioethics. She recognises that those in favour of establishing a commission, ‘suggest that the Nuffield Council, being funded by the Nuffield Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, is necessarily biased toward science. They advocate the new body in the belief that religion and a morality deprived from religion would be better represented on it.’

These views are echoed by Lord Alton who states that the new Commission should be separate and independent from particular government departments, ‘.. it would be a way of redressing a debate too frequently dominated by vested interests or by small elites who for two decades have enjoyed free reign in shaping the bioethics agenda.’

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