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This article explores the issues surrounding the notions of secrecy and openness in donor insemination (DI). Secrecy in DI is first placed in historical context, with an outline of some of the main reasons that secrecy has been advocated. The concept of openness is then introduced, and some of the arguments for a more open approach to DI are presented. On this basis, the responses of various governments to calls for more openness are outlined, and the social policy implications of these are discussed. It is concluded that more openness in DI would be advantageous to all of those involved. Couples, professionals, and policymakers are therefore urged to reexamine their views about the need for maintaining secrecy in the area.
Advances in biomedical research and health care simultaneously create practical benefits and ethical dilemmas. These bioethical dilemmas are the subject of intense social and political debate. Recent attempts in the United States to address these issues in a national, public policy setting have had mixed success. The absence of a single national voice has resulted in many voices at many levels. This article describes and analyzes past national bioethics bodies in an effort to find commonalities for both success and failure. It concludes that reconstitution of an Ethics Advisory Board within the Department of Health and Human Services and the formation of a President's Bioethics Commission are needed as the nation confronts new and difficult choices in research ethics and the delivery of health care.
To update the view of human nature that undergirds eighteenth-century British/American political economy, this article reviews literature from diverse subfields of psychobiology. Findings on the structure, function, and evolution of the human brain confirm the duality between reason and passion that is at the core of the science of Hobbes. Contemporary findings across fields indicate that people become emotionally attached to objects, including verbal abstractions, through experiences with pleasure and pain. In contrast, human reasoning is essentially scientific. The duality between passionate motivation and humanity's unique capacity for reasoning makes political science important. By applying the scientific method to the subject of politics, people can design institutions that channel quasi-rational behavior toward outcomes that are mutually beneficial, rather than mutually destructive. Defining human nature correctly is the key to political science, and Smith's addition of the passion of sympathy to Hobbes's narrow definition of human motivation is essential.