Complex policy issues pose a conundrum for liberal democratic governments. Disagreement about complex policy issues can often be traced back to fundamental value differences and governments aim to avoid heavy political conflicts based on these, while at the same time they face the need for expedient decision making. One solution is to seek advice of or even defer decisions to expert committees, in particular ethics committees. In this paper, we focus on the role of ethics committees by putting the role of ethicists as experts up for discussion. We argue that governments and the public foster wrong expectations regarding the role and mandate of ethics committees. Normative expertise is essentially different from scientific expertise. Lumping them together has resulted in false expectations and an overvaluation of the role of various types of experts. It is therefore necessary to explicate the roles the various players have and to define what is to be expected from them.
|Title of host publication||Symbolic Legislation Theory and Developments in Biolaw|
|Editors||Bart van Klink, Britta van Beers, Lonneke Poort|
|Publication status||Published - 2016|
Poort, L., & Bovenkerk, B. (2016). Changing Expectations of Experts: The Symbolic Role of Ethics Committees. In B. van Klink, B. van Beers, & L. Poort (Eds.), Symbolic Legislation Theory and Developments in Biolaw (Vol. 4, pp. 269-287). (Legisprudence Library; Vol. 4). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-33365-6_16