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Rhetorics of Hope and Fear in the Great Embryo Debate

Michael Mulkay
Social Studies of Science
Vol. 23, No. 4 (Nov., 1993), pp. 721-742
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/285730
Page Count: 22
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Rhetorics of Hope and Fear in the Great Embryo Debate
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Abstract

Legislation designed to control the conduct of research on human embryos was introduced in Britain in 1990. During the preceding debate, there had been widespread public discussion concerning the rights and wrongs of such research. This study examines some of the rhetorical resources used in the final parliamentary debate to support and oppose the continuation of embryo research. Two distinctive rhetorics employed in the dispute are described and documented. They are shown to have been associated with divergent conceptions of the membership of the human community and of the moral boundary within which embryo research should be required to operate. Suggestions are offered regarding the cultural preservation of the critical rhetoric of science, the influence of the two rhetorics upon the legislative outcome of parliamentary debate, and the relevance of these rhetorics to future reappraisals of the limits of scientific research.

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