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Point of Inquiry podcast - rd76 Religious IlliteracyArt Caplan - Bioethics Comes of Age


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America is one of the most devout nations in the west but it also has one of the lowest levels of religious literacy. According to the U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey published by the Pew Research Center most Americans cannot correctly answer simple questions about their own faith. But America was not always this way

Host: Chris Mooney

Our guest this week is Arthur Caplan, sometimes called the country's "most quoted bioethicist" and director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. In this wide ranging episode, Caplan discusses not only the latest issues and problems in his field, but also how those issues have changed over time.

Fresh from the ideological fights of the Bush administration-over culture war issues like stem cells, cloning, and Terri Schiavo-bioethicists like Caplan are now more focused on practical matters like access to healthcare. And so is the country as a whole.

However, the religious right remains active-encouraging pharmacists to claim a right of "conscience" and refuse to give patients the "morning after pill." Meanwhile, as an excuse to restrict abortion, some are now also making the dubious assertion that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks of gestation. 

So in this interview, Caplan surveys the leading problems in bioethics today-and those we'll be facing in the very near future. 

Arthur Caplan is the Emmanuel and Robert Hart Director of the Center for Bioethics, and the Sydney D Caplan Professor of Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He's the author or editor of twenty-nine books-most recently Smart Mice Not So Smart People (Rowman Littlefield, 2006) and the Penn Guide to Bioethics (Springer, 2009)—and over 500 papers in refereed journals. He writes a regular column on bioethics for MSNBC.com.



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