Re: [asa] scientific fact vs. ideology?

From: David Opderbeck <>
Date: Tue Mar 10 2009 - 08:59:04 EDT

Yes, it bothers me immensely. I think you are absolutely right that this is
a false dichotomy, particularly in the human embryonic stem cell research
context. It is also, I think, a classic example of scientism. The
implication is that "science" has determined that a human embryo is not a
"person" and/or that some utilitarian calculus warrants destructively
harvesting stem cells from at least some human embryos. These are
conclusions that can be informed, but not determined, by science. I
personally find destructive human embryonic stem cell research morally
horrifying, particularly when cell lines are harvested from embryos cast off
by the IVF industry.

David W. Opderbeck
Associate Professor of Law
Seton Hall University Law School
Director, Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology

On Tue, Mar 10, 2009 at 8:47 AM, Douglas Hayworth

> Note: this is NOT a politics question.
> President Obama said yesterday that public policy should be based on
> scientific facts not ideology.
> think this is an awful statement. It's a false dichotomy. Scientific
> "facts" don't make public policy; they form a necessary informational base,
> but every action based on that knowledge also
> requires a moral/ethical/ideological decision. Scientific facts say we can
> build nuclear weapons, but our choice to reduce their proliferation
> ideological/moral. Scientific facts have shown that it is possible to clone
> animals, but we all agree that ideology/morality must weigh in on public
> policy decisions relating to cloning. No one disagrees about the science of
> the "emergency contraception pill" or stem cell research; the pill works and
> stem cell research holds lots of promise. But those scientific facts in and
> of themselves are not a sound basis for policy!
> Does this misrepresentation of science (which I think is not particuler to
> Obama - so don't make this into a political debate) bother anyone else?
> Doug

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Received on Tue Mar 10 08:59:35 2009

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