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A critical assessment of rhetorical speech in ethical argumentation regarding biotechnology Knut W. Ruyter.

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1 A critical assessment of rhetorical speech in ethical argumentation regarding biotechnology Knut W. Ruyter

2 Perfect copy? Rhetorical question? Neues aus dem Copy-Shop (Die Zeit) Hungary: reproductive cloning as the pornography of science: rhetorical claim Discussion of copies played a very minor role in Norway, other than in the form of the right to a unique genetic identity

3 Rhetorical claims in Norway Pro: For the benefit of all in an inclusive society, supported by: right to unique genetic identity, part of our common Western heritage. Verbs: create, help Contra: The sorting society, supported by: tailor to fit, spare parts, hunt for deviance. Verbs: produce, instrumentalize,

4 The purpose of rhetoric To persuade or impress (for and against) To rouse emotions

5 Ethos and pathos Ethos, build up, construct the character, to bolster credibility Pathos. If you want to exploit the feelings you need to know them – and what triggers people

6 Metaphors To see something similar in something dissimilar To find good metaphors are to see similarities Good metaphors speak to the senses and builds on recognition

7 Examples Taken out as a test Much greater effect than deductive reasoning Two edged: for warning, for imitation

8 Argumentatio Strengthen and weaken (confirmatio – refutatio) Mobilize the best arguments Must be probable, credible (eikos): the understanding is recognized in context, to the models (paradeigmata) that the listeners are familiar with

9 Tactics, bias and means Allow for tactics: exaggerate, downplay Biased and slanted: when for a greater purpose Allow for means: make ridiculous

10 The competency of people Insight: what the people accept, must also the experts (and the politicians) accept

11 Act relating to the application of biotechnology in human medicine, etc. 12 June 1987, no August 1994, no December 2003, no. 100 Law proposition 2007

12 Continuous revisions The focus on rhetorics Very little use of traditional ethical reasoning Extensive use of examples (to test) Buttressed by warning metaphors Result: gradual liberalization

13 The last revisions Permits use of surplus fertilized eggs according to specific purposes and conditions. One of the purposes is to gain new knowledge for future treatment of serious disease, allowing for e.g. therapeutic cloning. Permits preimplantation diagnostics, also for donor purposes, on restricted grounds and according to specific procedures for approval

14 Limits Not produce fertilized eggs for research = amounts to instrumentalization of embryo (p. 23) Prohibition against research on embryos that will change DNA, apart from embryonic stem cells isolated from the embryo (p. 33), plus prohibition against return of embryos to a woman after research.

15 Rhetorics pro For the benefit of everyone in an inclusive society (§ 1-1) On the basis of the ethical norms that form part of our Western cultural heritage (§ 1-1) The right to a unique genetic identity (contra reproductive cloning)

16 Rhetorics contra Sorteringssamfunnet: The sorting society Hunt for deviance Discard (unwanted, deviant) Tailor for fit Design for a purpose Produce as spare parts Looked upon as article for everyday use

17 The result The metaphor of the inclusive society was not found credible The metaphors of hunting, tailoring, spare parts –found even less credible, or found wanting None able to admit weaknesses in their own metaphor (refutatio) Heaps of pathos, very little emphasis, if any, on ethos

18 The context Alliance between Christian Democrats and The Socialist Party (the sceptics): same result for very different reasons Eurobarometer: changing attitudes towards pro and less scepticism: the woes didnt happen Øverland og Lone: Live by, live with, live for? Our biotechnological future Absurd dichotomies (either selection or prohibition)

19 An inclusive society The purpose of the Act is to ensure that medical biotechnology are utilised for the benefit of EVERYONE in an INCLUSIVE society In accordance with human dignity, human rights, personal integrity and without any discrimination on the basis of genetic constitution, on the basis of ethical norms that form of our WESTERN CULTURAL HERITAGE

20 With the purpose of Developing knowledge which can help seriously ill patients; Helping carriers of genetic disease to get a child without disease; Making it possible to get children who can be donors to a sick sybling

21 The inclusive society The buzzword of political correctness Similar to: inclusive school (advancement of knowledge: together with others, to help others), inclusive work life (especially inclusion of the (physically) disabled), the colourful society (esp. immigrants etc.) But sorting is done School: adjusted learning, differentiated levels: sorting on the basis of individual success of aquiring knowledge; excellence to non- achievers

22 We have sorted for a long time Prenatal diagnostics (allows for selection) Abortion on demand (allows for selection) IVF practice allows for selection (some better than others) IVF practice gives spare embryos (after time must be discarded)

23 The sorting society: association and claim 1. The eugenic movement and practices in the last century: of negative and positive selection, including discarding life not worth living. 2. The sorting of goods, first class, second class, first hand, second hand, first rate, second rate – clothing, glass, food Claim: the sorting society in full breadth (Dåvøy) Counter claim: sorting is a myth (Saugstad)

24 Not a question of either - or Difference: no societal force, only individual choices Difference: selection replaced by choice Society permits choices, sometimes even guarantee them (abortion on demand), and it also supports institutions to do the work The choices of individuals have consequences for others than themselves, choices are not private, regardless of how we assess the moral status of others = the dilemma of the liberal state

25 Result Some types of sorting is permitted by law: negative: by discarding (abortion, surplus embryos); positive: by avoiding or selecting as a result of diagnostics (e.g. for compatibility for donation). Up to individuals to choose: about 250 selective abortions per year, regular abortions (numbers not increased since abortion on demand from 1975)

26 Rhetoric of suspicion Labor party: The accusation of the sorting society should in reality be understood as a move to also change the Act on Abortion; underlying motive: change the law: hypocritical Christian Democrats: The liberal act and the defense of autonomy will lead to a sorting society without the benefit for everyone (in an inclusive society): underlying motive: accept consequences without saying: cynical

27 Rhetorics risky business Persuasion hinges on credibility Credibility: ethos: trust character, person Credibility: argumentatio: admission of dilemma, arguments against and ability to refute them (refutatio) The rhetoric of the sorting society lost, claims grossly exaggerated (the grave consequences not seen), wasnt able to defend autonomous choice, doubted credibility (re abortion)

28 The new positive choices Lee M. Silver: Remaking Eden; Gregory Stock: Redesigning Humans Seven new techniques all based on IVF: 1) choice of donor and/or egg, 2) screening of semen and/or egg, 3) PID of embryos, 4) Control of embryo genome (chips), 5) Modification of embryo (gene therapy), 6) Enhancement of embryos (synthetic genes, extra chromosomes), 7) Cloning of adult stem cells

29 Scientific oversale Promises too much, cannot deliver reliable technology (e.g. gene therapy, Hwang Woo-Suk) Presupposes the same preferences and choices (do-it- yourself eugenics and GenRich), but what (empirical support do any one have for that: what if no harm is stronger than do better

30 The will of society Liberal view: gives possibilities for freedom of choice But: it is also conscious political choices: prenatal diagnostics: reduce number of Downs syndrome to half of todays prevalence (1977); Establishement of National Center for Fetal Medicine which goal it is to detect anomalies before week 12 (2001), choices moduled on what the society accepts, favors, motivates and so forth

31 Voluntary choice of individuals How voluntary is it? Support systems favor the established: very little when you are young, no employment, education, no partner Weak support systems for those who take care of disabled Raises questions of degree of voluntariness If it were me?

32 The rhetoric of spare parts PID and sybling compatibility Humans used as spare parts, (only) as a means to an end Implication: when used it will be discarded Not the case: diagnostics on an embryonic level, selection of embryo, if succeed, then can be a donor Small intervention, negligable risk, spare part even renewable?

33 Analogy of spare parts Transplantation from living (not renewable, greater risk) Transplantation of other spare parts: heart valve, and so forth Brain prosthesis for stroke patients: biological and artificial hippocampus, silicon chip implant to replace damaged part of the brain

34 The right to unique genetic identity EU Additional Protocol: prohibition against creating genetically identical human beings, sharing with another the same nuclear gene set (article 1, 1-2). Based on (rhetorical) fear of creating (perfect) copies? (Einsteins and Adams) But isnt it based on unsubstantiated presuppositions? Though genetically identical, the clone will not be identical in other respects: doesnt it rest on genetic determinism: we are our genes

35 Much more than our genes Identity much more than identical nuclear gene set Basic flaw: life of a clone will be governed by the genes only Pro: recreate, replace e.g. a dead child (case of Dr. Boisseliers: to bring back a diseased 10 months old boy); used to be very common: Lisbeth Cathrine, born 1740, died 1741; replaced by Lisbeth Cathrine, born 1742, personality, features, individuality and identity in her own right. Allows for getting a child who is genetically related to one of the parents

36 Against Technique not safe, cannot (yet) deliver what it promises Replacement, is it moral? Unique genetic identity, what about identical twins: differences: clone is older, clone replaces, identity not determined, with autonomous life choices, but psychological problem? Auch ein Klon ist frei geboren!

37 Takk! e-post adresse

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