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Bioethics & Politics: The Future of Bioethics in a Divided Democracy


ASBH summer conference, "Bioethics & Politics: The Future of Bioethics in a Divided Democracy," will be held in Albany, New York, USA, July 13-14. Please visit the conference page, then you can find the names of well-known American bioethicists. I have submitted an abstract for this conference, and today I received a letter of invitation from them. I will fly to Albany and give a 20 minute talk. I have not prepared for my presentation at all. The following is the abstract I sent to them:

How to Reconcile Liberal and Conservative Bioethics: A Japanese Philosopher’s View of the American Controversy

Masahiro Morioka (Professor, Osaka Prefecture University, Japan)

It might be interesting to see the current controversy from outside the US. In Japan, where the percentage of Christians is lower than 1% of the whole population, the “conservative” argument, such as the restriction of advanced medical technologies and the ban on selective abortion, has been put forward mainly by “left-wing” academicians, citizen activists and feminists, not by political or religious conservatives. This implies that conservative “wisdom” could also be developed by people outside “conservative” circles.

A highly politicized liberal/conservative dichotomy is fruitless. We should reconcile the both sides. Eric Cohen stresses the importance of searching for “wisdom in those puzzling human situations where wisdom is most needed” (HCR, 36-1, 2006). I totally agree with his statement because this is the role of philosophy in contemporary society, but at the same time, it should be needed to release their wisdom from the framework or dogma of the Judeo-Christian traditions.

We should learn from liberals the values of “liberal society,” where the various ways of life are respected as much as possible. However, we have to be wise enough to see through the long run side-effects caused by selection of human life and enhancement technologies in a free society. I would like to use the term “fundamental sense of security” and think about how to maintain “wisdom” in a pluralistic society.

Well, this is a summary of what I have been thinking about "bioethics and politics," and some of my opinions on this topic are found in my former posts in this blog (Liberal and Conservative bioethics, Genetic enhancement and conservative ethics, etc.). I am not sure whether an American audience will be interested in a presentation made by a Japanese philosopher, but anyway, this will be a great opportunity to send a message of "life studies" to American bioethicists, and participants in the conference. (Continues...)

Photo: A map in my office.

   -- M.Morioka www.lifestudies.org

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hy Masahiro, great that you get an invitation! NY will for sure be exiting. :) As I often told your themes are very popular in the west, at least the ground for a popularity of them is there. I hope you get a good audience.
Did I get you right, that your position is to choose the best ideas from the conservative side and the liberal one, and so gain a new outlook? That seems truly also for me the best way.
Look forward to hear how it has been in July. best wishes Arash

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