Wednesday, March 03, 2004

We Don't Play Politics With Science

"We Don't Play Politics With Science" is a washinton Post opinion piece published today. It is by Leon Kass, chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics. He responds to charges that the change in membership of the committee is politically motivated.

Kass makes the valid and important points that the individuals working on this committee all have had distinguished careers and that the committe has been working very hard to do the right thing. Certainly I would not want to take any credit from the Council members, who have accepted an important responsibility at considerable personal sacrifice.

Kass misses the point however that a committee composed of people representing different positions and points of view can give better advice in the public decision making process, than can one composed of people sharing similar points of views. The issue is not with the individuals on the Council as individuals, nor with the honesty and serious purpose with which the Council and its members work, but with the diversity of philosophical and scientific positions that they as a group bring to the table. The knowledge of a group depends not only on the knowledability of each member, but of the complementarity of the knowledge brought by the different members.

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