The closing session featured highlights from each of the four tracks about the ground that has been covered over the past three days and plans for moving forward. We then returned to our opening questions about the "Tarrytown story." The three Tarrytown Meetings have been a means to an end and not an end in and of themselves; what are the optimal next steps and structures to ensure the ongoing growth of our network and our work? Our work has only just begun, so where does the Tarrytown story take us from here?
The beginning and end thoughts to the 2011 Tarrytown Meeting. The opening plenary lectures by Michele Goodwin, Colin O'Neil, and David Winickoff reflect upon the topic "Values for a New Biopolitics". The Closing Plenaries, delivered by Alexander Capron, Dorothy Roberts, and Susan Fogel talk about how to move this conversation forward.
Why do we really care about technologies that can radically transform human biology? Of all the technologies and practices The Tarrytown Meetings addressed, those that would give us the power to radically alter the biological makeup of future generations raise some of the most fundamental concerns. But different people ground these concerns in different ways: in the need to ensure health and safety; in commitments to social justice, equity and the common good; in human rights and human dignity; in a commitment to fully informed democratic governance of powerful technologies, especially when these are otherwise driven by market forces; in the need for precaution in the face of new technologies of potentially great consequence; in the giftedness of human life, the "yuck factor," and "factor X"; and in theological commitments. In what ways do these and other grounds for our concerns allow us to agree on practices, policies and strategies, and in what ways might they work to divide rather than unite us? Are there grounds for our concerns that are yet to be fully discerned and articulated, and that might resonate deeply with large numbers of people?
In what ways does the advent of new human biotechnologies, and the need to adopt new policies, challenge conventional social and political worldviews and alignments? Perspectives on matters related to new human biotechnologies often fail to align neatly with conventional political and ideological categories. Why is this, and what challenges and opportunities does it present? What kinds of political rethinking might be called for, across the board? Can we transcend the polarized worldviews that for some time have framed public debate regarding human reproductive practices, and have lately extended to broader debates about science, technology, society, and the meaning of "progress"? How can we open the public sphere to concerns about the ways in which human biotechnology and related technologies might undermine the common good and our sense of sharing a common human future, while ensuring individual rights?