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05/12/2016

New Bioethics Commission Report Lays Out Roadmap for Tackling Tough Ethical Questions

The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues (Bioethics Commission) today released, Bioethics for Every Generation: Deliberation and Education in Health, Science, and Technology. This tenth report sets forth a series of recommendations for how to tackle the most pressing ethical questions that confront our nation, and ensure everyone in our society is equipped to address ethical dilemmas that arise in everyday life.

The report marks the culmination of the Bioethics Commission’s work over the last eight years and draws on its experience using democratic deliberation to advise the President on complicated ethical issues in health, science, and technology.

The field of bioethics is often called upon to resolve seemingly intractable ethical conflicts and challenges. This Bioethics Commission has tackled challenges that face us all as individuals, professionals, family members, and members of society in an increasingly interconnected world.

To help national advisory bodies as well as smaller, community-level organizations such as schools, churches, hospitals, and universities, approach issues that have no clear right or wrong answer, the Bioethics Commission has outlined five key steps in the process of democratic deliberation:

  1. Begin with an open question and consider distinct points of view
  2. Time the deliberation for maximum impact
  3. Invite input from experts and the public
  4. Foster open discussion and debate
  5. Develop detailed, actionable recommendations

Emphasizing the important role that education plays–across the lifespan–in preparing individuals with the skills they need to navigate complex challenges, the Bioethics Commission calls on educators, from primary school through professional training and beyond, to incorporate ethics education into their curricula.

The report highlights educational programs and classroom activities from across the country and abroad, such as The Ethics Bowl, that teach students how to share their views and engage in thoughtful and respectful deliberation of a solution. The Bioethics Commission also provides recommendations to ensure teachers are trained to effectively deliver ethics education.

As the Bioethics Commission looks to the future and considers the role of national bioethics advisory bodies, it underscores the important functions of supporting public bioethics education and engaging in deliberation, and their symbiotic relationship. Deliberation and ethics education work together: education is required for informed deliberation about complex bioethical issues, and deliberation results in a deeper understanding of ethical dimensions of difficult problems.

Read full report:

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