Bioethics and "Brave New World": Science Fiction and Public Articulation of Bioethics

Main Article Content

John A Lynch


Debates over medicine and biotechnology have often had recourse to science fiction narratives. One narrative, Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, is unique in that both proponents and opponents of research treated references to the novel as a legitimate rhetorical strategy. This essay uses debates from 1998 to 2003 over embryonic stem cell research and cloning to illustrate two types of references to Huxley’s novel. Allusions to the novel identify the presence and salience of ethical concerns, acting as an opening gambit in public discourse. Allegorical uses yoke the novel to a narrow pretext of conservative bioethics. After identifying the contours of allusion and allegory, this essay argues for eschewing allegory in order to preserve a rhetorical commonplace for public discourse on medicine and biotechnology.

Article Details

Research Articles