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Bioethics and Democracy: Competing Roles of National Bioethics Organisations


Dodds, SM and Thomson, C, Bioethics and Democracy: Competing Roles of National Bioethics Organisations, Bioethics, 20, (6) pp. 326-338. ISSN 0269-9702 (2006) [Refereed Article]

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The definitive published version is available online at:

DOI: doi:10.1111/j.1467-8519.2006.00511.x


In establishing National Bioethics Organisations (NBOs), liberal democracies seek to acknowledge the diversity of strongly held ethical positions and the imperative to engage in public debate about important bioethical decisions. NBOs are typically given a range of responsibilities, including contributing to and stimulating public debate; providing expert opinion on relevant issues for policy deliberations; and developing public policy. The state is now found to have an interest in areas previously thought to be a matter of individual choice. NBOs can provide one way of opening up public debate to allow the diversity of views to be heard in a manner that is well-informed, articulate and responsive to both expert and 'lay' public views. We draw on debates in political theory about democratic decision-making and on the policy making roles of some key NBOs. We are particularly interested in examining the capacity of NBOs to meet the democratic ideal of effective participation by the public, or citizenry, especially by those who are directly affected by the policies, in the development of effective public policy. We provide a basic framework for policy development involving NBOs that can begin to meet this ideal, a process of 'contested deliberation'.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:national bioethics organisations bioethics policy health and medical research policy democracy and pluralism
Research Division:Philosophy and Religious Studies
Research Group:Applied ethics
Research Field:Bioethics
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in philosophy and religious studies
UTAS Author:Dodds, SM (Professor Susan Dodds)
ID Code:58340
Year Published:2006
Web of Science® Times Cited:26
Deposited By:Philosophy
Deposited On:2009-09-29
Last Modified:2010-06-07

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