Monash Bioethics Review 22 (1):8-17 (2003)

Plural democratic societies encourage and require the tolerance of disparate views. However, in relation to contentious areas like assisted reproductive technologies and destructive embryo research, tolerance is strained by the normative force of our fundamental beliefs about the moral status of early human forms. Yet in the continuing debates, spokespersons for different positions often do not concede all the implications of their arguments, may sidestep the real moral issues, and can fail to be clear about the foundations on which their arguments and policy advice ultimately rely. Guidelines and statutes can be rendered incoherent by the desire to balance and satisfy opposing values, rather than honestly reflecting the primary values they espouse.I call for greater clarity and honesty as these issues continue to be debated. An uncritical adherence to pluralism will encourage strategic obfuscation, but citizens of democracies need to be clearly informed about all the premises of opposing positions. Decisions about ethically and legally acceptable reproductive technologies ultimately depend on support for one metaphysical grounding at the expense of another. This should be acknowledged, as should its implications for policy.
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DOI 10.1007/bf03351383
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