The blog of the 2009 – 2017 Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues

Ethically Sound Episode 9: Bioethics for Every Generation

ep-9The ninth episode of the Bioethics Commission’s podcast series, Ethically Sound, is now available. This 10-episode series brings the diverse body of the Commission’s work to a broad audience. Today’s episode, “Bioethics for Every Generation,” focuses on the Commission’s legacy report Bioethics for Every Generation: Deliberation and Education in Health, Science, and Technology, which outlines how democratic deliberation and ethics education can be used to address challenging ethical issues in health, science, and technology.

The Bioethics Commission has addressed the importance of democratic deliberation and ethics education in previous reports. In its first report, New Directions: The Ethics of Synthetic Biology and Emerging Technologies, democratic deliberation—a method of collaborative decision making that calls for mutual respect and reason-giving—is one of the five ethical tenets used to assess emerging technologies. In multiple reports, the Bioethics Commission has recommended incorporating ethics education into all stages of training for scientists and health care providers. The report Bioethics for Every Generation describes democratic deliberation and ethics education as mutually reinforcing processes that can help foster a more civic-minded society.

The podcast opens with a narrative from Dr. Lisa M. Lee, Executive Director of the Bioethics Commission. Dr. Lee recounts a challenging experience early in her public health career where she was asked to justify a particular policy. Regarding the importance of ethics in health and science, Dr. Lee said “Science and technology provide us with great tools for improving our experience as human beings, and it is up to us to consider how we ought to use these tools. It is these two parts—the can that science offers and the should that ethics offers—that are critical elements of the decisions we make in health and science.”

The podcast then includes an interview with Dr. Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania and Chair of the Bioethics Commission. The interview is conducted by Hillary Wicai Viers, a former Communications Director with the Bioethics Commission staff. Dr. Gutmann discussed how the Bioethics Commission’s commitment to democratic deliberation allowed it to address ethically challenging topics, and emphasized the importance of ethics education. Regarding the importance of ethics education, Dr. Gutmann said “Ethics education does not teach students what to think, which many parents and educators might worry about. Rather, ethics education helps students learn how to think, and helps students approach ethically challenging topics in a thoughtful and reflective way.”

Episode 9 is now available on our website, as well as on our SoundCloud, YouTube and iTunes pages. In addition to this episode, listeners can access the first eight episodes of Ethically Sound. Listeners can follow the podcast using #EthicallySound or by following us on Twitter @bioethicsgov. Stay tuned for the tenth and final episode in our series, “Charting a Path Forward,” which will be available on November 21, 2016. We welcome comments and feedback at

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This is a space for the members and staff of the 2009 -2017 Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues to communicate with the public about the work of the commission and to discuss important issues in bioethics.

As of January 15th, 2017 this blog will no longer be updated but continues to be available as an archive of the work of the 2009-2017 Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues

Learn more about the 2009 - 2017 Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.