David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Bioethics 23 (4):226-235 (2009)
This article discusses the relation between empirical and normative approaches in bioethics. The issue of dwarf tossing, while admittedly unusual, is chosen as a point of departure because it challenges the reader to look with fresh eyes upon several central bioethical themes, including human dignity, autonomy, and the protection of vulnerable people. After an overview of current approaches to the integration of empirical and normative ethics, we consider five ways that the empirical and normative can be brought together to speak to the problem of dwarf tossing: prescriptive applied ethics, theoretical ethics, critical applied ethics, particularist ethics and integrated empirical ethics. We defend a position of critical applied ethics that allows for a two-way relation between empirical and normative theories. Against efforts fully to integrate the normative and the empirical into one synthesis, we propose that the two should stand in tension and relation to one another. The approach we endorse acknowledges that a social practice can and should be judged both by the gathering of empirical data and by normative ethics. Critical applied ethics uses a five stage process that includes: (a) determination of the problem, (b) description of the problem, (c) empirical study of effects and alternatives, (d) normative weighing and (e) evaluation of the effects of a decision. In each stage, we explore the perspective from both the empirical (sociological) and the normative ethical point of view. We conclude by applying our five-stage critical applied ethics to the example of dwarf tossing.
|Keywords||empirical theory bioethics methodology|
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Julia Inthorn, Silke Schicktanz, Nitzan Rimon-Zarfaty & Aviad Raz (2015). “What the Patient Wants…”: Lay Attitudes Towards End-of-Life Decisions in Germany and Israel. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 18 (3):329-340.
Sabine Salloch, Jan Schildmann & Jochen Vollmann (2012). Empirical Research in Medical Ethics: How Conceptual Accounts on Normative-Empirical Collaboration May Improve Research Practice. BMC Medical Ethics 13 (1):5.
David B. Resnik & Zubin Master (2011). Criteria for Authorship in Bioethics. American Journal of Bioethics 11 (10):17 - 21.
Carlo Leget (2013). Analyzing Dignity: A Perspective From the Ethics of Care. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 16 (4):945-952.
Brent Mittelstadt, Bernd Carsten Stahl & N. Ben Fairweather (2015). How to Shape a Better Future? Epistemic Difficulties for Ethical Assessment and Anticipatory Governance of Emerging Technologies. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (5):1027-1047.
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