Bioethics and American Democracy

New developments in biotechnology, while promising to advance human health, are also rapidly expanding our powers of control over our bodies, our minds, and our world. How we acquire these powers and how we decide to use them are questions that science alone cannot answer. They are inescapably moral and political questions of profound importance for the future of democratic society and the dignity of human life. EPPC’s program on Bioethics and American Democracy works to clarify our responsibilities to the future by encouraging much needed moral and political deliberation on emerging biotechnologies and medical advances—from cloning to stem-cell research to reproductive technologies to gene editing and beyond.

Until the 20th Century, the practice of medicine was limited in its therapeutic efficacy, at times doing more harm than good. Little, if anything, was known about diagnosing disease and even less was known about effective treatment. Cellular and subcellular processes and pharmacologic advances remained undiscovered. Nevertheless, for most of the history of medicine, medical ethics explored foundational questions about human life and health: what is a human being, what natural obligations and rights emerge from personhood, and how does the practice of medicine augment human flourishing? With initially slow progress in medical science, these questions received little direct challenge from scientific advancements.

Today, rapidly advancing biological knowledge and technical power has the capacity to radically alter human life and society. Our healthcare system likewise faces serious challenges to its economic sustainability and its response to a worldwide pandemic. In this turbulent mix of discovery and danger the debates over human dignity and the proper ends and goals of medicine must address these swift developments. We will only find adequate responses by drawing on perennial sources of moral wisdom and engaging a range of scholars from diverse disciplines.

From 2003 through 2017, we partnered with EPPC’s program on Science, Technology, and Society to publish the acclaimed quarterly The New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society. Today, through our ongoing research, publications, podcast, and public outreach programs we remain at the center of contemporary bioethics debates, helping scientists, healthcare providers, policymakers, and citizens deal more wisely and more creatively with the promise and perils of advances in biotechnology.

The Bioethics and American Democracy program is directed by EPPC Fellow Dr. Aaron Kheriaty. He is joined by EPPC Fellow Dr. Aaron Rothstein and EPPC Fellow Carter Snead, an internationally recognized expert in the field of law and bioethics. Dr. Rothstein hosts the Program’s podcast, Searching for Medicine’s Soul, which tackles important questions by examining medicine’s purpose, or telos. Why do physicians do what they do? How does the practice of medicine relate to scientific progress? How can it properly support human flourishing? Our podcast promotes scholarship and features guests who have thought carefully about the history and aims of medicine, and its collision with a thrilling and in some ways tragic age of scientific discovery.

Searching for Medicine’s Soul Podcast

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Biomedical Security State, British Edition

Aaron Kheriaty

The latest revelation of government intelligence agencies spying on and censoring their own citizens for public health wrongthink. In Orwell’s country of origin, Big Brother is Always Watching.

Articles

Human Flourishing / February 6, 2023

The Long-Term Harms of Anonymous Sperm Donation

Devorah Goldman

Medical professionals have willingly abetted the conception of human beings in circumstances marked by deceit.

Articles

Public Discourse / January 30, 2023

The White House Covid Censorship Machine

Aaron Kheriaty

Newly released emails show how officials coerce social-media companies to toe the government line.

Articles

The Wall Street Journal / January 8, 2023

Dr. Fauci’s Amnesia

Aaron Kheriaty

Extraordinary things certainly have happened under his watch when science and politics fused.

Articles

COMPACT Magazine / December 15, 2022

Vaccine Propaganda and Coercion

Aaron Kheriaty

Institutions embraced these misguided policies with little public discussion and no debate.

Articles

Human Flourishing / November 25, 2022

Our Digital Panopticon

Aaron Kheriaty

How digital surveillance is gaining power for the biomedical security state.

Articles

American Greatness / November 3, 2022

The Clash Between Technocracy and Religion

Devorah Goldman

Bureaucratic institutions apply a patina of objective, empirical rigor over human judgements that are fundamentally subjective and too often anti-religious.

Articles

Mosaic Magazine / November 2, 2022