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ELSA-Etiske,rettslige og samf.m. as

National moral landscapes: The Politics of Stemcells

Awarded: NOK 2.2 mill.

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Project Period:

2005 - 2009


Subject Fields:

Stemcells have occupied the centerstage of scientific, public and political awareness since its isolation in 1998. They produce golden hopes of finding future cures for a lot of diseases, but also provoke very heated and antagonistic public debates. It cr eates deep moral concers, involving the status of human embryos, manipulation and destruction of nascent human life and human cloning. The public and political debates have, however, differed across national contexts, resulting in very different legal and regulatory regimes in nations as USA, UK, Germany and Norway. We want to look deeper into the constructions of the national discourses around stemcell-problematics in these nations. Moral arguments present themselves in a universal fashion, but they are also embedded in and shaped by social, cultural, political and epistemic contexts. National comparisons are effective ways of demonstrating this, thereby denaturalizing central arguments, dominant concepts and general perspectives. This might open new spa ces for for both moral and political reasoning. We will construct the comparisons around three axes: USA/Norway, UK/Norway and Germany/Norway. Each of the axes, may cover up blind spots in the others, because two nations may share some pre-suppositions an d formative elements, which they in turn do not share with other, third nations. Leading questions in the comparisons will be how the national discourses around stemcells translate, interprete and give meaning to the older problems concerning embryo-resea rch and human cloning. These problems have haunted the stemcell-debates, but in different ways in different nations. This is partly due to the way these problems have been understood and interpreted 10 or 20 years ago. In the project we will study parliam entary debates, official reports, reprots from ethical committees, reprots from interest groups, articles in professional journals and in some central newspapers.

Funding scheme:

ELSA-Etiske,rettslige og samf.m. as