Bioethics Blogs

A Background on Deliberation and Education in Bioethics

Last August, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) began formally discussing the role of deliberation and education in bioethics. As a part of this examination, the Bioethics Commission is exploring the idea of teaching deliberation as a tool to promote ethical literacy.

From the start, the Bioethics Commission has adopted democratic deliberation as its process for decision making. At the heart of this process is open and robust dialogue, demonstrated in the Commission’s quarterly public meetings, held most recently on May 27, 2015. The goal of democratic deliberation and the Commission’s decision-making process is not to have Commission members agree completely on all issues; instead, members strive to clearly identify issues during their deliberation and to reach consensus as to what advice to offer on how to navigate such issues.

Bioethics by its very nature is a multidisciplinary field, bringing together experts in medicine, law, science, and philosophy; however, there remains a need for improved bioethics education. Noting this educational gap, the Bioethics Commission has developed pedagogical materials to support the teaching of bioethics ideas, principles, and theories across many areas of study. The creation of these educational materials serves to further promote the development of deliberative democracy.

The resulting capstone report will serve to represent the Bioethics Commission’s “commitment to advance and promote education and deliberation on some of the most important issues of bioethics in our time,” said Commission Chair Dr. Amy Gutmann. “Recognizing that education is required for informed deliberation, and that 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.

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.