(A4) Religion and Bio-Politics

The accelerated advances in the life sciences have opened human nature up to technical intervention to an unprecedented degree. In the wake of this “end of nature” (Giddens) more and more biomedical matters are appearing on the political agendas of contemporary societies. For, as a rule, there is profound moral-ethical disagreement about whether technologies such as pre-implantation diagnostic and therapeutic cloning should be allowed or forbidden. Not least among the social groups that strongly shape the character of these debates are the religious organisations. In this, they frequently represent positions that aim at defending the conventional limits of technological control over human nature. But the legitimacy and the functionality of such religious interventions in the “secular” state are, however, both politically and political-theoretically, not uncontroversial (see for example Ronald Dworkin, John Rawls, Jürgen Habermas).

Before this background a total of four questions present themselves within the research areas of Normativity and Integrative Procedures:

  1. In what ways do religious traditions and organisations formulate their bio-ethical positions, with which kinds of reasons do they give their positions validity for various groups of addressees within the political process and what means do they use to carry out their positions?
  2. In which ways and under what conditions do religious positions and arguments achieve influence or access to political decisions?
  3. In the decision over matters where there is profound moral-ethical disagreement, which factors are responsible for the parties’ conduct in the conflict and for the conflict dynamic of the political process?
  4. What political procedures are employed in the decision-making processes concerning bio-political matters, how much inclusion or exclusion do they reveal, especially in regard to religious parties, and how do these various processes and varying combinations of parties effect the results, the dynamic of conflict, and the acceptance of the decision?

These questions will be answered in a comparative study of the political regulation of preimplantation genetic diagnosis and of reproductive cloning in selected OECD states and newly industrializing countries since the 1980s. The choice of the countries to be investigated will be made by varying or keeping constant central religious-political constellations of conditions such as dominant religious traditions, the degree of religious pluralism, and the institutional regulation of the relationship between politics and religion. The research plan will apply the method of focused comparison.