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Adam Keiper over at The New Atlantis discusses the shape and mission of the new Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. The revisions made by the Obama administration are more than cosmetic or the standard changing of the guard—the entire charge of the council has been significantly retooled. Previously understood to be an instrument of genuinely skeptical moral inquiry, and specifically encouraged to steward a kind of national Socratic debate about the remarkably pressing and complex issues that attach to biotechnological innovation, the council is now a practical advisory board that dispenses policy advice to the President. The implications of this are broad and deep but surely it means, and they have been admirably candid on this score, that real philosophical investigation has been replaced by technocratic administration. I should also point out that while the website that housed the previous council’s reports, extraordinary examples of public philosophy, has been dismantled the good folks at The New Atlantis are now hosting all of it.

Our own Peter Lawler served on the previous council and has a “reflection” on his “termination” here .

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