Ethics expertise in political regulation of biomedicine: the need of democratic justification

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This study addresses the problem that democratic polities call for expert advice on normative issues and argues for the need of democratic justification of political use of ethics expertise in regulation of biomedicine. Ethics expertise, expertise in the sys- tematic analysis of moral problems, must not be conflated with moral expertise, expertise in providing the right moral. However, by asking ethics expertise for advice, political decision-makers impose bioethics councils to provide consensus decisions on value questions, which is detrimental to democracy. The article demonstrates how consensus seeking transforms ethics expertise into alleged moral expertise, which precludes the fundamental democratic value of equal respect of all citizens’ right of normative self-determination and to have an equal say in common matters. To be democratically justified, it is necessary that ethics expertise uses its clarifying expertise and provides different possible moral positions for the public and democratically accountable decision-makers to deliberate and decide upon.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science


  • expertise, democracy, ethics, bioethics, consensus
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Policy Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

First published online 23 April 2014