Reflections on the nature of ‘public ethics'

Montgomery, Jonathan (2010) Reflections on the nature of ‘public ethics' At Consent and Organ Donation, United Kingdom.


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This paper offers reflections on the processes by which the Organ Donation Taskforce (of which the author was a member) reached its conclusion not to propose a 'presumed consent' model for organ donation. It also explores the role of the HGC (chaired by the author)and experiences from membership of the Committee on the Ethical Aspects of Pandemic Influenza and of the Nuffield Council's Working Party on Public Health Ethics.

The main themes are that 'public' ethics is a much more contingent process than academic work on similar issues; it needs to (a) take into account prevailing policy issues in related areas,(b) be expressed in terms that are sufficiently close to the prevailing professional discourse to have a reasonably hope of reception,(c) assess how positions will be represented in the media and what behavioural changes will follow in the actual political context, (d) create workable compromise formulations, from which people can reason even if they reach them by different arguments. Tentative conclusions emerge in relation to (a) the difficulties these contingencies imply for comparative work (both over time and between countries, which needs to take greater account of context, (b) appropriate grounds for critique of positions as 'public' ethics and distinguishing it from the critique appropriate in the more traditional academic contexts.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)
Venue - Dates: Consent and Organ Donation, United Kingdom, 2010-12-09
ePrint ID: 171491
Date :
Date Event
9 December 2010Published
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2011 09:49
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2017 03:26
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