Reasons of Conscience: The Bioethics Debate in Germany

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The implicit questions that inevitably underlie German bioethics are the same ones that have pervaded all of German public life for decades: How could the Holocaust have happened? And how can Germans make sure that it will never happen again? In Reasons of Conscience, Stefan Sperling considers the bioethical debates surrounding embryonic stem cell research in Germany at the turn of the twenty-first century, highlighting how the country’s ongoing struggle to come to terms with its past informs the decisions it makes today.           Sperling brings the reader unmatched access to the offices of the German parliament to convey the role that morality and ethics play in contemporary Germany. He describes the separate and interactive workings of the two bodies assigned to shape German bioethics—the parliamentary Enquiry Commission on Law and Ethics in Modern Medicine and the executive branch’s National Ethics Council—tracing each institution’s genesis, projected image, and operations, and revealing that the content of bioethics cannot be separated from the workings of these institutions. Sperling then focuses his discussion around three core categories—transparency, conscience, and Germany itself—arguing that without fully considering these, we fail to understand German bioethics. He concludes with an assessment of German legislators and regulators’ attempts to incorporate criteria of ethical research into the German Stem Cell Law.

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About the Author:

Stefan Sperling has taught at Harvard University, Humboldt University of Berlin, and Deep Springs College in California. He lives in Stanford, California.

Review:

"Reasons of Conscience: The Bioethics Debate in Germany provides an extraordinary example of anthropology’s capacity to not only document and critique social worlds but also to open up a space for political and philosophical mediations." (Petra Rethmann American Ethnologist)

“Stefan Sperling’s Reasons of Conscience is a highly illuminating account of the current state of consciousness about conscience in post-unification Germany. Concerned with the ethical relations between science and society, the book takes up an eclectic mix of evidence, including legal theories, concepts, metaphors, architectural design, the use of history and historiography, personal impressions, and public accounts of the prosecution of East German border guards and of debates about mandatory counseling for abortions. At its center is the work of a federal commission concerned with bioethics, specifically the regulation of embryonic stem cells. In distilling the specific way in which ethics gets defined in a democratic public sphere that prizes participation and transparency, it offers a fascinating journey through the reasoning about conscience in contemporary Germany.”
(John Borneman, Princeton University)

Reasons of Conscience is a dazzling study of the intersection of science, political life, and historical memory in modern Germany. It traces the public debate surrounding the legal, moral, and ethical ramifications of stem cell research in a country acutely sensitized to avoiding the repetition of the industrialization and eugenic manipulation of life in its past. Stefan Sperling explores in stunning ethnographic detail how German political life interweaves matters of ethics, citizenship, and conscience, from the everyday practices and knowledge of ethics commissions, scientific research, and citizen conferences, to the complexities of public and parliamentary debate. Without a doubt, this is the finest ethnography of German political life and of the inner workings of the German state that I have read—it is brilliantly attentive both to the cultural and historical legacies that shape German politics as well as to the Realpolitik and complex alliances of its parliamentary statecraft.”
(Dominic Boyer, Rice University)

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 2013. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. The implicit questions that inevitably underlie German bioethics are the same ones that have pervaded all of German public life for decades now: How could the Holocaust have happened? And how can Germans make sure that it will never happen again? In "Reasons of Conscience", Stefan Sperling considers the bioethical debates surrounding embryonic stem cell research in Germany at the turn of the twenty-first century, highlighting how the country's ongoing struggle to come to terms with its past informs the decisions it makes today. Sperling brings the reader unmatched access to the offices of the German Parliament to convey the role that morality and ethics play in contemporary Germany. He describes the separate and interactive workings of the two bodies assigned to shape German bioethics - the parliamentary Enquiry Commission on Law and Ethics in Modern Medicine and the executive branch's National Ethics Council - tracing each institution's genesis, projected image, and operations, and revealing that the content of bioethics cannot be separated from the workings of these institutions.Sperling then focuses his discussion around three core categories - transparency, conscience, and Germany itself - arguing that these categories are central to understanding German bioethics. He concludes with an assessment of German legislators' and regulators' attempts to incorporate criteria of ethical research into the German Stem Cell Law. "Reasons of Conscience" will appeal not only to cultural anthropologists, science studies scholars, and bioethicists, but also to those in the fields of political science, law, and German studies. Seller Inventory # AAH9780226924328

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 2013. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The implicit questions that inevitably underlie German bioethics are the same ones that have pervaded all of German public life for decades now: How could the Holocaust have happened? And how can Germans make sure that it will never happen again? In Reasons of Conscience , Stefan Sperling considers the bioethical debates surrounding embryonic stem cell research in Germany at the turn of the twenty-first century, highlighting how the country s ongoing struggle to come to terms with its past informs the decisions it makes today. Sperling brings the reader unmatched access to the offices of the German Parliament to convey the role that morality and ethics play in contemporary Germany. He describes the separate and interactive workings of the two bodies assigned to shape German bioethics - the parliamentary Enquiry Commission on Law and Ethics in Modern Medicine and the executive branch s National Ethics Council - tracing each institution s genesis, projected image, and operations, and revealing that the content of bioethics cannot be separated from the workings of these institutions. Sperling then focuses his discussion around three core categories - transparency, conscience, and Germany itself - arguing that these categories are central to understanding German bioethics. He concludes with an assessment of German legislators and regulators attempts to incorporate criteria of ethical research into the German Stem Cell Law. Reasons of Conscience will appeal not only to cultural anthropologists, science studies scholars, and bioethicists, but also to those in the fields of political science, law, and German studies. Seller Inventory # AAH9780226924328

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 2013. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. The implicit questions that inevitably underlie German bioethics are the same ones that have pervaded all of German public life for decades now: How could the Holocaust have happened? And how can Germans make sure that it will never happen again? In "Reasons of Conscience", Stefan Sperling considers the bioethical debates surrounding embryonic stem cell research in Germany at the turn of the twenty-first century, highlighting how the country's ongoing struggle to come to terms with its past informs the decisions it makes today. Sperling brings the reader unmatched access to the offices of the German Parliament to convey the role that morality and ethics play in contemporary Germany. He describes the separate and interactive workings of the two bodies assigned to shape German bioethics - the parliamentary Enquiry Commission on Law and Ethics in Modern Medicine and the executive branch's National Ethics Council - tracing each institution's genesis, projected image, and operations, and revealing that the content of bioethics cannot be separated from the workings of these institutions.Sperling then focuses his discussion around three core categories - transparency, conscience, and Germany itself - arguing that these categories are central to understanding German bioethics. He concludes with an assessment of German legislators' and regulators' attempts to incorporate criteria of ethical research into the German Stem Cell Law. "Reasons of Conscience" will appeal not only to cultural anthropologists, science studies scholars, and bioethicists, but also to those in the fields of political science, law, and German studies. Seller Inventory # BTE9780226924328

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