Bioethics, Politics and Business

image of Bioethics, Politics and Business

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.



Mechanisms of Power in Biopolitics

As the 20th century came to an end and we turned towards a new millennium, the Norwegian Government set up three ambitious, high-profile inquiries: one was about freedom of speech (The Commission on Freedom of Speech), one was about our values (the Human Values Commission) and one was about the question of power and democracy (the Norwegian Study of Power and Democracy). The Commission on Freedom of Speech was launched by the social democratic Jagland Government in 1996. When Prime Minister Bondevik and his coalition government of centre parties took over in 1997, he fronted the Human Values Commission as his most important political issue. Only three months later Prime Minister Bondevik then appointed a research group of five professors to lead a research programme on power similar to the widely respected study of 20 years back under Professor Gudmund Hernes and Professor Johan P. Olsen’s leadership. Neither the mandate nor the political guidance for these three different inquiries were alike. However, the question of colliding values and freedom of speech touches upon difficult aspects concerning the question of power and democracy in contemporary international politics. The political situation after 9/11 and, e.g. the conflict over the Muhammad caricatures, may need new research perspectives to establish where power exists and who possesses it.


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