Simon Jenkins has written an excellent article in The Guardian today. He suggests that the government needs a chief ethicist to advise on difficult moral issues.
Jenkins proposes that the chief ethicist would, of course, be a philosopher. Wouldn't that be amazing? Imagine having a coherent ethical basis for issues such as how to address terrorism and how to legislate for advances in biotechnology.
Jenkins describes the role that the chief ethicist would play:
"Before the Iraq war the cabinet sought the view of its chief law officer on whether it was legal. I wonder what view it might have received from a chief ethicist, asked if the war was moral. One day we would have consulted a bishop. Now we need philosophers, and badly, even if they would be sorely overworked."
I think Jenkins is a little optimistic that the days of consulting bishops are completely over, but I do hope they are on the way out. I can't wait for the day when A C Grayling rather than Rowan Williams is routinely involved in government consultations on moral issues.