Bioethics News

Is voting for The Donald unethical?

Is it ethical for bioethicists to support Donald Trump? Without actually naming him, Wayne Shelton, of the Alden March Bioethics Institute at Albany Medical Center, suggests that it is not.

Shelton’s reason is interesting. Bioethics, he argues, is a way of finding practical solutions in a society with fractured moral perspectives. This can only succeed in a healthy democracy where differences are settled peacefully.  

Donald Trump and his angry, frustrated fans threaten this amicable way of settling disputes. It is time for bioethicists to speak out to protect democracy:

Bombast and lack of substance have always been part of American political rhetoric. Normally I would see the role of bioethicists to advocate for policy positions within the political process, but try to remain relatively neutral in attacking or supporting particular political candidates and speaking out so candidly about issues. But in my judgment, this election cycle is an exception. Now is the time for all thoughtful people who value democracy and, in particular, bioethicists should speak out strongly. We are not in a position to take our political order and indeed the framework for moral decision making for granted.

Some of the anger amongst voters stems from a changing economy. “Tragically, their despair, as expressed currently in political terms, approaches nihilism. For them the message is clear, the American way of life no longer provides them meaning and purpose.

But some is values-driven: “Another part of the explanation also involves evolving cultural and religious norms over the past few decades governing same sex marriage, women’s roles and their reproductive rights, along with greater ethnic and religious inclusion and tolerance—changes that we liberals celebrate as progress and essential to a growing democracy—that are anathema to many on the political and cultural right. “

Shelton concludes that this is “a vulnerable moment in our history, where a wrong outcome at the presidential level could change the character of our nation for generations, if not forever.”  

This article is published by Michael Cook and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence.

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.