The Role of Empirical Research in Bioethics

American Journal of Bioethics 9 (6-7):59-65 (2009)
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There has long been tension between bioethicists whose work focuses on classical philosophical inquiry and those who perform empirical studies on bioethical issues. While many have argued that empirical research merely illuminates current practices and cannot inform normative ethics, others assert that research-based work has significant implications for refining our ethical norms. In this essay, I present a novel construct for classifying empirical research in bioethics into four hierarchical categories: Lay of the Land, Ideal Versus Reality, Improving Care, and Changing Ethical Norms. Through explaining these four categories and providing examples of publications in each stratum, I define how empirical research informs normative ethics. I conclude by demonstrating how philosophical inquiry and empirical research can work cooperatively to further normative ethics



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References found in this work

Principles of biomedical ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by James F. Childress.
The silent world of doctor and patient.Jay Katz - 1984 - Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
The Silent World of Doctor and Patient.Daniel Callahan & Jay Katz - 1984 - Hastings Center Report 14 (6):47.
Feminist Ethics.Alison M. Jaggar - 1992 - In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), The Blackwell Guide to Ethical Theory. Oxford and Malden: Blackwell Publishers. pp. 348-374.

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