Elective Modernism and the Politics of (Bio) Ethical Expertise

In Hauke Riesch, Nathan Emmerich & Steven Wainwright (eds.), Philosophies and Sociologies of Bioethics. Dordrecht, Netherlands: pp. 23-40 (2018)
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In this essay I consider whether the political perspective of third wave science studies – ‘elective modernism’ – offers a suitable framework for understanding the policy-making contributions that (bio)ethical experts might make. The question arises as a consequence of the fact that I have taken inspiration from the third wave in order to develop an account of (bio)ethical expertise. I offer a précis of this work and a brief summary of elective modernism before considering their relation. The view I set out suggests that elective modernism is a political philosophy and that although its use in relation to the use of scientific expertise in political and policy-making process has implications for the role of (bio)ethical expertise it does not, in the final analysis, provide an account that is appropriate for this latter form of specialist expertise. Nevertheless, it is an informative perspective, and one that can help us make sense of the political uses of (bio)ethical expertise.

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Nathan Emmerich
Queen's University, Belfast (PhD)


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