Friday, October 10, 2008

Bioethics and the US elections

A short article on the upcoming US election was published by the Agenda Coscioni (available in Italian here). In the article, I look at the political program of both candidates, Sen. McCain and Sen. Obama, with regard to embryonic stem cells. A lot has been said and written about this topic. The statements from both candidates are sufficiently clear, although a closer scrutiny reveals ambiguities and contradictions. However, politicians are accountable to standard that are different from philosophers, legal scholars, and other critical thinkers. What is interesting, and the primary focus of my article, that the candidates have rather different views of what is the appropriate role that science and technology ought to play in the political arena. While McCain sees the science and technology issues as extensions of the foreign policy and economic political platform (or business, depending how you define the terms!), Obama seems to take a more academic focus, where science is a political tool that can play a role in the global environment through excellent by knowledge rather than exclusion on national security grounds. I ground the argument in part on this article published by Nature. I wrote the piece at a time when the outcome of the election was much more uncertain and the economy was not so prominently on the front page of the campaign. Science has not been the main focus of the campaigns. In a few weeks, we will have a new President and in a few months we will see how his leadership will affect science and technology.

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