Experiments in Democracy: Human Embryo Research and the Politics of Bioethics

Hardcover | January 31, 2017

byBenjamin Hurlbut

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Human embryo research touches upon strongly felt moral convictions, and it raises such deep questions about the promise and perils of scientific progress that debate over its development has become a moral and political imperative. From in vitro fertilization to embryonic stem cell research, cloning, and gene editing, Americans have repeatedly struggled with how to define the moral status of the human embryo, whether to limit its experimental uses, and how to contend with sharply divided public moral perspectives on governing science.

Experiments in Democracy presents a history of American debates over human embryo research from the late 1960s to the present, exploring their crucial role in shaping norms, practices, and institutions of deliberation governing the ethical challenges of modern bioscience. J. Benjamin Hurlbut details how scientists, bioethicists, policymakers, and other public figures have attempted to answer a question of great consequence: how should the public reason about aspects of science and technology that effect fundamental dimensions of human life? Through a study of one of the most significant science policy controversies in the history of the United States, Experiments in Democracy paints a portrait of the complex relationship between science and democracy, and of U.S. society's evolving approaches to evaluating and governing science's most challenging breakthroughs.

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Human embryo research touches upon strongly felt moral convictions, and it raises such deep questions about the promise and perils of scientific progress that debate over its development has become a moral and political imperative. From in vitro fertilization to embryonic stem cell research, cloning, and gene editing, Americans have r...

J. Benjamin Hurlbut is assistant professor in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:376 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:January 31, 2017Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231179545

ISBN - 13:9780231179546

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Politics of Experiment1. New Beginnings 2. Producing Life3. Representing Reason4. Cloning, Knowledge, and the Politics of Consensus5. Confusing Deliberation6. In the Laboratories of Democracy 7. Religion, Reason, and the Politics of Progress8. The Legacy of ExperimentNotesIndex

Editorial Reviews

A well-documented and rigorously argued book that analyzes the modes of public reason that have guided U.S. debates about the human embryo. Hurlbut shows how prevailing modes of reasoning gave science a constitutional role in configuring the terms of ethical discourse. Experiments in Democracy offers a fascinating study of the role of scientific authority in deliberation about bioethical issues in the United States. Important for understanding bioethical debates and the contemporary politics of American democracy.