The borders between science, ethics and politics are important areas of public life and academic inquiry. One of the most significant border zones are federal advisory bodies tasked with bringing scientific and ethical knowledge to bear on matters of public concern. This paper uses the President's Council on Bioethics during Leon Kass' tenure as Chair as a case study to investigate the norms governing the interface between expert knowledge and democratic decision-making. It first introduces the Kass Council and examines legitimation, politicization and their relationships within federal advisory bodies. The paper then evaluates the Kass Council using the standards derived from this conceptual normative investigation. Three case studies of the Kass Council provide evidence that charges of politicization were sometimes accurate, while at other times they were mischaracterizations.
- Ethics committees
- Science policy