When they have addressed highly controversial subjects, the bioethical commissions of the last decade have tended to avoid explaining the ethical justifications for their recommendations. This omission is consistent with the typical preference of policymakers for “muddling through” because it is often possible to reach agreement on specific decisions even when disagreeing sharply on principles. In bioethical policy, this omission of reasons has some special consequences. It allows commission members to ignore “slippery slope” arguments, which are based on the claim that the logic of justification adopted to address the current problem will ultimately lead us to great harms. Case-by-case decision-making– along with the omission of reasons for decisions–will tend to highlight the benefits of innovation, and downplay possible long-term effects that might be ethically upsetting.

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