Religion, Public Reason, and Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Cynthia B. Cohen

Edited by David E. Guinn

in Handbook of Bioethics and Religion

Published in print September 2006 | ISBN: 9780195178739
Published online September 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199784943 | DOI:
 Religion, Public Reason, and Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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This chapter argues that although there are certain limits on how religious bodies and their members should attempt to insert their beliefs into public policy matters, religiously based arguments should, as a matter of principle, be allowed to enter into public debate. This is the case even when many participants in these debates do not accept the premises on which the arguments of religious believers are constructed. The first part of the chapter considers the stances that various religious bodies and commentators have taken publicly regarding embryonic stem cell research and the ways in which they have justified their views in the course of public discussion. It then examines why critics of religious bodies object to the introduction of religious views into public policy debates and offer several responses to these critics, using the responses of religious bodies and thinkers to embryonic stem cell research as examples. Finally, the chapter sets out an alternative view that offers a system for allowing religious bodies to present their views in the public sphere, provided that they follow certain practices that allow fair and open debate.

Keywords: religious bodies; beliefs; public policy; public debate; embryonic stem cell research

Chapter.  7011 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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