Experimentalism in bioethics research

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 8 (2):169-180 (1983)
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Basson's commentary on my proposals regarding the structure and function of research in bioethics provides a welcome opportunity for extended comparison of standard approaches with the suggestions made in ‘What Bioethics Should Be.’ I begin by noting a common assumption underlying our respective views. I then address points of fundamental difference, indicating why the experimental method proposed in my original essay presents a potentially more productive strategy for examining moral issues in biomedicine. In the latter respect, I certainly disagree with Basson's contention that "we are unable to test" metaethical hypotheses "against reality" (Basson, p. 185) – a proposition which seems no more defensible than the equally untenable claim that we cannot refine methods of natural science research through examination of their usefulness in advancing our understanding of the correlation of events in nature.



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