Brave new worlds: Philosophy, politics, and science in human biotechnology


Journal Article

Advances in biotechnology have important applications to the core demographic concerns of human reproduction and longevity, raising a number of difficult ethical issues. In the debate over those issues, however, the voices of demographers and other social scientists are nearly silent. In the United States the dominant bioethical arguments currently heard come from a conservative political and ideological position, represented, for example, by the President's Council on Bioethics and in particular by its chairman, Leon Kass. A critical discussion of Kass's writings identifies the philosophical roots of that position and highlights its logic and limits. Kass's specific arguments on cloning can be challenged by applying them to an earlier and revolutionary technology, birth control; his views on death and dying would argue for curtailing investment in life-extending technology. Conservatism of this kind ignores social science perspectives and forecloses opportunities for social change.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Morgan, SP; Shanahan, S; Welsh, W

Published Date

  • March 1, 2005

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 31 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 127 - 144

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0098-7921

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/j.1728-4457.2005.00055.x

Citation Source

  • Scopus