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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Private Morality and Public Morality

Interviewed by Joan Bakewell on BBC Radio Three (April 12, 2006), Dame Mary Warnock conceded that the Committee of Inquiry into embryology, human fertilisation and embryology (which she had chaired) had fudged the issue of posthumous fertilization. She said she had thought it might be arrogant of her to impose her own experience (as a posthumous child) onto the committee, so she had remained silent. Here is Bakewell's response.
[JB] Well no what it is, is of course you're using personal experience

[MW] Yes

[JB] to inform your own moral judgement, which of course is what we want everyone to do.

[MW] Yes

[JB] As long as they are truthful about it.
This is of course the exact opposite of what Warnock has just admitted doing. Bakewell takes the moral high ground here, and proceeds to give Warnock a sharp lesson in practical moral philosophy.

Earlier in the interview, Warnock had appealed to a distinction between private morality and public morality. Bakewell is now attacking (or at least disregarding) this distinction, and Warnock acquiesces.

[Transcript] [Audio]

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