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New Bioethics Commission

President Obama has established a new bioethics commission. The chair of the Commission is Amy Guttman, the president of the University of Pennsylvania. The vice chair is James W. Wagner, the president of Emory University. You can read the press release here.President Bush's Council on Bioethics had many critics, but I was not one of them. It was a serious and committed group of scholars and they did important work. The new commission is more likely to be politically left-of-center than the right-of-center PCB, but let us hope that the new commission does not get mired in a new round of battles in the culture wars.Any recommendations for commission members? My nomination: Cathy Kaveny.

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Cathy Kaveny would be an excellent choice, and it would also give her something to do in her no-doubt copious free time. :-)I wonder if it is possible to avoid having an ethics commission be either politically left of center, right of center, or, for that matter, centrist. But I suppose when one's political position all but determines one's position in matters of the physical sciences (with global warming being the most extreme example I can think of), it is too much to hope that bioethics and politics can be disentangled. At least the hyperpartisan Charles Krauthammer will not be on the new council (I fervently hope) nor will Leon ("Licking an ice cream cone is offensive") Kass.

Hello Paul (and All),What an interesting question! In my opinion, this question is all the more interesting because many of the great figures in biomedical ethics (such as Baruch Brody) and not so great but prominent figures (such as Ed Pelligrino) are retired or semi-retired and in my opinion many of the people who have risen to prominence in the last twenty years in biomedical ethics are not in the same league as Brody. But if I were in charge here are a few people I would like on this commission. Not all are full-time specialists in biomedical ethics but all in my opinion outclass the currently best known figures in biomedical ethics in terms of quality of their work in applied ethics:Cathleen Kaveny (Notre Dame)Maggie Little (Georgetown)Alison MacIntyre (Wellesley)Mark Murphy (Georgetown)Linda Zagzebski (Oklahoma)I also think Amy Guttman is an inspired choice to chair this commission but I don't know how she'll manage it given her duties as president of Penn.