Mary Warnock's support for assisted dying is significant in a number of respects. It shows, first, how an individual's ethical views are not fixed and can change according to what the observer called 'the lessons of life'. Secondly, and more importantly, it shows just how much authority bioethicists are thought to wield over public affairs. The fact that a philosopher fronted an episode of the BBC's flagship science series again shows how bioethicists emerged as a 'new epistemic power' in Britain from the 1980s onwards. Although the notion of moral expertise remains contested and many bioethicists refuse to acknowledge it, they are often portrayed as what the Guardian called 'ethics experts'. The legal philosopher Gerald Dworkin, working at Queen Mary University in London, highlighted the major differences in his paper on the 'delicate balance' between ethics, law and medicine in Britain and the United States.

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