© 2012

The Biotechnology Debate

Democracy in the Face of Intractable Disagreement


Part of the Library of Ethics and Applied Philosophy book series (LOET, volume 29)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Context of Book

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 17-17
    2. Bernice Bovenkerk
      Pages 1-15
    3. Bernice Bovenkerk
      Pages 19-61
    4. Bernice Bovenkerk
      Pages 63-88
  3. Theoretical Framework

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 89-89
    2. Bernice Bovenkerk
      Pages 91-147
  4. Deliberative Fora: Deliberative Democracy Put to the Test

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 149-149
    2. Bernice Bovenkerk
      Pages 151-188
    3. Bernice Bovenkerk
      Pages 189-232
  5. Conclusions: Deliberative Democracy Revisited

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 233-233
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 245-334

About this book


This book grounds deliberative democratic theory in a more refined understanding of deliberative practice, in particular when dealing with intractable moral disagreement regarding novel technologies. While there is an ongoing, vibrant debate about the theoretical merits of deliberative democracy on the one hand, and more recently, empirical studies of specific deliberative exercises have been carried out, these two discussions fail to speak to one another.

Debates about animal and plant biotechnology are examined as a paradigmatic case for intractable disagreement in today’s pluralistic societies. This examination reveals that the disagreements in this debate are multi-faceted and multi-dimensional and can often be traced to fundamental disagreements about values or worldviews.

“One of the acute insights to emerge from this examination is that deliberation can serve different purposes vis-à-vis different types of problem.  In the case of deeply unstructured problems, like the modern biotechnology debate, the aim of inclusion is more appropriate than the aim of consensus. This book highlights the importance of political culture and broader institutional settings in shaping the capacity and propensity of citizens to engage in deliberation and the degree to which governments are prepared to relinquish authority to deliberative mini-publics."

Robyn Eckersley, University of Melbourne, Australia


Animal biotechnology Biotechnology debate Consensus conferences Deliberative democratic theory Novel technologies deliberative democracy plant biotechnology public deliberation

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1., PhilosophyEthics InstituteUtrechtNetherlands

Bibliographic information

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