Dr Kathryn MacKay1, Dr Emma Tumilty2
1University Of Sydney, Australia, 2Deakin University, Australia
Do academic bioethicists have a duty to be activists? This question has been the centre of controversy in recent years. There is ongoing discussion in the academic bioethics literature that makes clear that there is an expressed desire by some to be academic activists or to engage in activism around certain projects within their academic activities. Some have even argued that it is an obligation of academic bioethicists to advocate for the causes or outcomes that they endorse in their published work. Others, however, argue that it is not only possible but proper to maintain a separation between one’s academic research and one’s political activities. In this presentation, we begin to explore what academic activism should look like, by asking three questions: (1) what is the distinction between an academic activism and a public activism, vis-a-vis the particular expertise one has as an academic?; (2) what would an ‘obligation to advocate’ require of an academic and how strong is such an obligation upon us?; (3) if academic bioethicists have such a duty, then by what means ought we engage in activism in our professional roles? We present these questions and some preliminary answers, with the intention of contributing to an ongoing conversation with colleagues in bioethics.
Bio to come.