Norwegian version

The role of ethics commissions and moral experts in a democracy

There exists a system of governmental advisory commissions which are tasked with giving policy advice to governments on the premise that this will contribute to improved governing.

Although the existence of moral expertise is highly controversial advisory bodies such as the Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board makes clear that governments also listen to expert advice on ethical issues. These ethics commissions have, amongst others, members who work in academia with ethical questions such as medical ethicists, philosophers and theologians.

The existence of ethics commissions raises many interesting questions concerning the legitimacy and role of these institutional arrangements. What the proper role of these commissions should be in a democracy is linked with how we view the possibility of moral expertise and moral experts. Moreover, ethics commissions operate within a policy context. What consequences this has for example for how the members of ethics commissions behave in regard to reaching consensus will be explored. 

The PhD-project combines normative and empirical research. As part of the project an interview study with the members of the Norwegian Biotechnology Advisory Board is planned. 


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