Bioethics Blogs

Deliberation and Education in Bioethics: Overview

In the final session of its nineteenth public meeting, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) heard from a panel of experts on deliberation and bioethics education, a theme that has been central throughout the Commission’s work since it was established by President Obama in 2009.

In introducing the new project this morning, Bioethics Commission Chair Amy Gutmann, Ph.D., noted that while all of the Commission’s reports to date have been topic-specific, its commitment to public bioethics and to related educational and deliberative efforts has been a constant. “Recognizing that education is required for informed deliberation, and deliberation enhances education at all levels, this new report will integrate deliberation and education as overarching themes of the Commission’s work, and focus on their symbiotic relationship as twin pillars of public bioethics,” Gutmann said.

Daniel Levin, Ph.D., associate professor of political science at the University of Utah, started the discussion by addressing the role of deliberation in public bioethics forums—such as the national meetings of the Bioethics Commission—in informing public understanding of bioethics.

Levin noted that public forums such as the Bioethics Commission are important to ensuring that policy discussions on complex and important issues that concern the public—but in which the public isn’t necessarily engaged—are transparent and serve the public.

Research has shown that Americans are “conflict avoidant” and do not like to engage in discussions of controversial issues, Levin said.  However, he added, “Americans are concerned about the process itself, especially that special interests not be allowed to have undue influence, and they believe that the political process should be transparent.”

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.