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Keywords:

  • embryonic stem cell research;
  • cloning;
  • somatic cell nuclear transfer;
  • comprehensive doctrines;
  • burdens of judgment;
  • overlapping consensus

Abstract

This paper examines the political and policy making challenges posed by human embryonic stem cell research and somatic cell nuclear transfer, known colloquially as cloning, by applying two facets of John Rawls' construct of political liberalism—the burdens of judgment and overlapping consensus—to consider how such seemingly intractable controversies are resolved in a constitutional democracy. The analysis underscores the importance of both civic and scientific education to promoting the capacity of citizens to achieve what Rawls calls an overlapping consensus of reasonable comprehensive doctrines.