Bioethicists seem to be in the position of providing convenient justifications for the use of questionable technologies. They are not ethical auditors, my experience has been that they are professional rationalizers and enablers.Douglas Kern expands this criticism in his rebuke of New York Times ethics columnist Randy Cohen. It includes great passages like this one:
Your job as a public ethicist is not to teach people how best to apply the rules and obligations of a transcendent authority, as the ethicists of old once did. That would be hard. And intrusive. And divisive. And let’s face it: “transcendent authority” carries the whiff of the red state, with all the unpleasantness (NASCAR, Wal-Mart, redundant children) there attached. Neither is your job to teach philosophy. That, too, would be hard, and unsatisfying as well; when do philosophers ever agree? No, your job is to provide just enough soothing advice to scratch that fleeting itch that your affluent readership feels when confronted with moral questions that vacuous self-serving upper class prejudices can’t immediately resolve.It is a really good piece and Kern, as a lawyer who had to take classes in ethics, knows of what he writes.