An ethics of expertise based on informed consent

Science and Engineering Ethics 12 (4):637-661 (2006)

Ethicists widely accept the notion that scientists have moral responsibilities to benefit society at large. The dissemination of scientific information to the public and its political representatives is central to many of the ways in which scientists serve society. Unfortunately, the task of providing information can often give rise to moral quandaries when scientific experts participate in politically charged debates over issues that are fraught with uncertainty. This paper develops a theoretical framework for an “ethics of expertise” (EOE) based on the notion that scientists have responsibilities to provide information in a way that promotes autonomous decision-making on the part of the public and its representatives. Moreover, insofar as the principle of informed consent has developed in biomedical ethics as a way for physicians to promote autonomous decision-making on the part of their patients, this paper suggests that the informed-consent concept may suggest a set of criteria and guidelines that can help scientists to fulfill their similar ethical responsibilities to the public. In order to illustrate how the resulting EOE could provide practical guidance for scientific experts, the paper examines a case study involving the dissemination of information about the low-dose biological effects of toxic chemicals and carcinogens.
Keywords expertise  consent  publication  dissemination  hormesis  carcinogens
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DOI 10.1007/s11948-006-0062-3
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References found in this work BETA

Principles of Biomedical Ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - Oxford University Press.
The Fate of Knowledge.Helen Longino - 2002 - Princeton University Press.
Science, Truth, and Democracy.Philip Kitcher - 2003 - Mind 112 (448):746-749.

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Citations of this work BETA

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A Tapestry of Values: Response to My Critics.Kevin C. Elliott - 2018 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 10 (11).

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