Bioethics, Politics and Business

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In the decision-making involving biosciences and biotechnology, both politicians and the general public have come to increasingly rely on different kinds of experts and specialised bodies. Interest groups such as industry, religious authorities and consumer organisations also try to influence political decision-making, and the role of the media has not always been - it is claimed - as neutral as the public perceives it to be. At the same time, according to the democratic ideal, ultimate power should rest with the parliamentarians and with the people. Who has the power in decision-making in biotechnology? Can there be legitimate expertise in bioethics? How can we improve the power balance? These are some of the questions this book seeks to answer. The book is divided into three parts. The first part presents articles dealing with the role of biopolitics and the expert bodies in relation to the democratic ideal. The second part looks at the special role of the media in relation to decision-making in bioethics and biopolitics. The third part of the book looks at the links between the biotechnology industry and bioethical decision-making.



Biopolitics in a Democratic Society

In this paper I start by discussing briefly the notions of biopolitics and democracy. I then ask what implications the fact that we live in a democratic society may have for biopolitics. I distinguish between three different conceptions of the citizen implied in biopolitical discourse and relate them to different functions of democracy. I argue that there is a need to encourage and facilitate a more active public engagement while raising the citizens’ scientific awareness. Finally, I consider some of the complexities related to the task of fostering scientific citizenship in contemporary society and describe an example where biopolicy is carried out in the spirit of deliberative democracy.


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