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While the notion of bioethical expertise might raise a host of questions concerning moral authority it is nevertheless the case that bioethicists continue to advance well thought out, detailed and comprehensive arguments concerning the ethical implications of the biosciences and healthcare. Not to make use of such work or those who produce it when it comes to the work of government and the development of policies would seem misguided at best. Thus, in the light of existing analysis of scientific expertise and its proper contribution to democratic political processes, this essay explores the role expert bioethicists might legitimately play in the production of policy and broader public moral debates. However, given that ethics can shade into politics and, furthermore, does so in a way that is not the case for science and politics, the ethico-political limitations that constrains and constructs the exercise of bioethical expertise is examined. Particular attention is paid to the implications of this view when it comes to bioethical research predicated on religious perspectives in the context of public reason, the validity of which has recently been called into question. We conclude with the suggestion that, if they are to act as experts in political contexts, bioethicists cannot simply make expert contributions to policymaking processes, they should also acknowledge they are responsible for shaping the broader public moral discourses about science and medicine.
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