Thisarticle critically examines the normative, liberal assumptions that most frequently underlie scholarly, activist, and policy calls for reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Rather than measuring how reconciliation is progressing, I suggest we ask ourselves whose reconciliation is being desired here: by whom, for whom, and for what? Which importantalternative questions remain unasked and which latent answers are ignored ordownplayed in the process? Particular attention is paid to the ways in which liberal reconciliation discourse tends to depoliticize questions of justice.
_Rediscovering Aesthetics_ brings together prominent international voices from art history, philosophy, and artistic practice to discuss the current role of aesthetics within and across their disciplines. Following a period in which theories and histories of art, art criticism, and artistic practice seemed to focus exclusively on political, social, or empirical interpretations of art, aesthetics is being rediscovered both as a vital arena for discussion and a valid interpretive approach outside its traditional philosophical domain. This volume is distinctive, because it provides (...) a selection of significant but divergent positions. The diversity of the views presented here demonstrates that a critical rethinking of aesthetics can be undertaken in a variety of ways. The contributions open a transdisciplinary debate from which a new field of aesthetics may begin to emerge. Contributors include: Claire Bishop, Diarmuid Costello, Paul Crowther, Arthur Danto, Nicholas Davey, Thierry de Duve, James Elkins, Francis Halsall, Michael Ann Holly, Julia Jansen, Michael Kelly, Robert Morris, Tony O'Connor, Peter Osborne, Adrian Piper, David Raskin, Carolee Schneemann, Richard Shiff, Wolfgang Welsch, and Richard Woodfield. (shrink)
Was ist der Mensch? Das ist eine der "großen" philosophischen Fragen, und immer wieder werden bei der Beantwortung dieser Frage antike Denker zitiert. Das vorliegende Buch ist die erste Gesamtdarstellung des anthropologischen Denkens in der Antike. In fünfzehn Beiträgen behandelt der Band alle wichtigen antiken Philosophen und Philosophenschulen, von den Vorsokratikern bis zu Augustinus. Bewusst schaut der Band dabei über die Grenzen dessen hinaus, was wir heute "Philosophie" nennen, und wendet sich auch Denkern aus den Gebieten der antiken Literatur, Theologie (...) und Medizin zu. Der Band richtet sich an Philosophen und Altphilologen ebenso wie Historiker und Theologen. Die Beiträge eignen sich auch als Einführung in die jeweiligen Autoren und Schulen für Studierende und interessierte Leser aus anderen Disziplinen. Speziell für diesen Leserkreis liefern die Beiträge Hinweise für die weitere Lektüre. (publisher) -/- Mit Beiträgen von Ursula Bittrich, Yves Bossart, Jan N. Bremmer, Thomas Buchheim, Christoph Horn, Ludger Jansen, Christoph Jedan, Geurt Henk van Kooten, Zbigniew Nerczuk, Matthias Perkams, Joachim Söder, Niko Strobach, Hartmut Westermann und Jula Wildberger. (shrink)
In "On Social Facts" (1989) and subsequent works, Margaret Gilbert has suggested a plural subject account of the semantics of ‘we’ that claims that a central or standard use of ‘we’ is to refer to an existing or anticipated plural subject. This contrasts with the more general approach to treat plural pronouns as expressions referring to certain pluralities. I argue that (i) the plural subject approach cannot account for certain syntactic phenomena and that (ii) the sense of intimacy, which Gilbert (...) cites as evidence for her plural subject account, has a different source than the existence of joint commitments constituting a respective plural subject. Moreover, (iii) there is a wide varie-ty of phenomena in the linguistic record, which, while not constituting conclusive evidence against the plural subject account, nevertheless, are dealt with better by the plurality account. ‘We’ thus refers to pluralities, which may or may not be plural subjects. The precise analysis of ‘we’ thus reveals a multi-layered ontology of groups. (shrink)
Unrealistic optimism is a bias that leads people to believe, with respect to a specific event or hazard, that they are more likely to experience positive outcomes and/or less likely to experience negative outcomes than similar others. The phenomenon has been seen in a range of health-related contexts—including when prospective participants are presented with the risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial. In order to test for the prevalence of unrealistic optimism among participants of early-phase oncology trials, we (...) conducted a survey with patients over 18 years of age who were enrolled in a phase I, phase I/II, or phase II clinical cancer trial in the New York City area between August 2008 and October 2009. Participants in our study were asked to compare their own chances of experiencing a range of risks and benefits related to the trial they were enrolled in with the chances of the other trial participants. We found a significant optimistic bias in their responses. Respondents tended to overestimate the benefits of the trial they were enrolled in and underestimate its risks. In addition, we found no significant relationship between respondents’ understanding of the trial’s purpose and how susceptible they were to unrealistic optimism. Our findings suggest that improving the consent process for oncology studies requires more than addressing deficits in understanding. (shrink)
It is often claimed that the intentions of physicians are multiple, ambiguous, and uncertain—at least with respect to end-of-life care. This claim provides support for the conclusion that the principle of double effect is of little or no value as a guide to end-of-life pain management. This paper critically discusses this claim. It argues that proponents of the claim fail to distinguish two different senses of “intention,” and that, as a result, they are led to exaggerate the extent to which (...) clinical intentions in end-of-life contexts are ambiguous and uncertain. It argues further that physicians, like others who make life and death decisions, have a duty to get clear on what their intentions are. Finally, it argues that even if the principle of double effect should be rejected, clinical intentions remain ethically significant because they condition the meaning of extraordinary clinical interventions, such as that of palliative sedation. (shrink)
Australia’s punitive policy towards people seeking asylum deliberately causes severe psychological harm and meets recognised definitions of torture. Consequently, there is a tension between doctors’ obligation not to be complicit in torture and doctors’ obligation to provide best possible care to their patients, including those seeking asylum. In this paper, we explore the nature of complicity and discuss the arguments for and against a proposed call for doctors to boycott working in immigration detention. We conclude that a degree of complicity (...) is unavoidable when working in immigration detention, but that it may be ethically justifiable. We identify ways to minimise the harms associated with complicity and argue that it is ethical to continue working in immigration detention as long as due care and attention is paid to minimising the harms of complicity. (shrink)
Researchers and ethicists have long been concerned about the expectations for direct medical benefit expressed by participants in early phase clinical trials. Early work on the issue considered the possibility that participants misunderstand the purpose of clinical research or that they are misinformed about the prospects for medical benefit from these trials. Recently, however, attention has turned to the possibility that research participants are simply expressing optimism or hope about their participation in these trials. The ethical significance of this therapeutic (...) optimism remains unclear. This paper argues that there are two distinct phenomena that can be associated with the term ‘therapeutic optimism’—one is ethically benign and the other is potentially worrisome. Distinguishing these two phenomena is crucial for understanding the nature and ethical significance of therapeutic optimism. The failure to draw a distinction between these phenomena also helps to explain why different writers on the topic often speak past one another. (shrink)
Language’s intentional nature has been highlighted as a crucial feature distinguishing it from other communication systems. Specifically, language is often thought to depend on highly structured intentional action and mutual mindreading by a communicator and recipient. Whilst similar abilities in animals can shed light on the evolution of intentionality, they remain challenging to detect unambiguously. We revisit animal intentional communication and suggest that progress in identifying analogous capacities has been complicated by (i) the assumption that intentional (that is, voluntary) production (...) of communicative acts requires mental-state attribution, and (ii) variation in approaches investigating communication across sensory modalities. To move forward, we argue that a framework fusing research across modalities and species is required. We structure intentional communication into a series of requirements, each of which can be operationalised, investigated empirically, and must be met for purposive, intentionally communicative acts to be demonstrated. Our unified approach helps elucidate the distribution of animal intentional communication and subsequently serves to clarify what is meant by attributions of intentional communication in animals and humans. (shrink)
Drawing the line on physician assistance in physician-assisted death continues to be a contentious issue in many legal jurisdictions across the USA, Canada and Europe. PAD is a medical practice that occurs when physicians either prescribe or administer lethal medication to their patients. As more legal jurisdictions establish PAD for at least some class of patients, the question of the proper scope of this practice has become pressing. This paper presents an argument for restricting PAD to the terminally ill that (...) can be accepted by defenders as well as critics of PAD for the terminally ill. The argument appeals to fairness-based paternalism and the social meaning of medical practice. These two considerations interact in various ways, as the paper explains. The right way to think about the social meaning of medical practice bears on fair paternalism as it relates to PAD and vice versa. The paper contends that these considerations have substantial force when directed against proposals to extend PAD to non-terminally ill patients, but considerably less force when directed against PAD for the terminally ill. The paper pays special attention to the case of non-terminally ill patients who suffer from treatment-resistant depression, as these patients present a potentially strong case for extending PAD beyond the terminally ill. (shrink)
Time has multiple aspects and is difficult to define as one unique entity, which therefore led to multiple interpretations in physics and philosophy. However, if the perception of time is considered as a composite time concept, it can be decomposed into basic invariable components for the perception of progressive and support-fixed time and into secondary components with possible association to unit-defined time or tense. Progressive time corresponds to Bergson’s definition of duration without boundaries, which cannot be divided for measurements. Time (...) periods are already lying in the past and fixed on different kinds of support. The human memory is the first automatic support, but any other support suitable for time registration can also be considered. The true reproduction of original time from any support requires conditions identical to the initial conditions, if not time reproduction becomes artificially modified as can be seen with a film. Time reproduction can be artificially accelerated, slowed down, extended or diminished, and also inverted from the present to the past, which only depends on the manipulation of the support, to which time is firmly linked. Tense associated to progressive and support fixed time is a psychological property directly dependent on an observer, who judges his present as immediate, his past as finished and his future as uncertain. Events can be secondarily associated to the tenses of an observer. Unit-defined time is essential for physics and normal live and is obtained by comparison of support-fixed time to systems with regular motions, like clocks. The association of time perception to time units can also be broken. Einstein’s time units became relative, in quantum mechanics, some physicist eliminated time units, others maintained them. Nevertheless, even the complete elimination of time units is not identical to timelessness, since the psychological perception of progressive and support-fixed time still remains and cannot be ignored. It is not seizable by physical methods, but experienced by everybody in everyday life. Contemporary physics can only abandon the association of time units or tenses to the basic components in perceived time. (shrink)
In order to develop the ontology of tendencies for use in the representation of medical knowledge, tendencies are compared with other kinds of entities possessing the realizable-realization structure, specifically: dispositions, propensities, abilities and virtues. The peculiarities of tendencies are discussed and a standard schema of tendency ascription is developed in order to represent the relations between the ascriptions of tendency tokens to particulars and the ascriptions of tendency types to universals. Two nonstandard cases and their epistemic variants are discussed.
In order to develop the ontology of tendencies for use in the representation of medical knowledge, tendencies are compared with other kinds of entities possessing the realizable-realization-structure, specifically: dispositions, propensities, abilities and virtues. The peculiarities of tendencies are discussed and a standard schema of tendency ascription is developed in order to represent the relations between the ascriptions of tendency tokens to particulars and the ascriptions of tendency types to universals. Two non-standard cases and their epistemic variants are discussed.
Being an "untimely review", this paper reviews Aristotle's 'Categories' as if they were published today, in the era of computerised information, where categorisation becomes more and more essential for information retrieval. I suggest a systematic ordering of Aristotle's list of categories and argue that Aristotle's discussion of ontological dependency and his focus on concrete entities are still a source of new insight and can indeed be read as a contribution to the emerging field of applied ontology and ontological engineering.
In this paper, we defend the ethics of clinical research against the charge of paternalism. We do so not by denying that the ethics of clinical research is paternalistic, but rather by defending the legitimacy of paternalism in this context. Our aim is not to defend any particular set of paternalistic restrictions, but rather to make a general case for the permissibility of paternalistic restrictions in this context. Specifically, we argue that there is no basic liberty-right to participate in clinical (...) research and that considerations of distributive fairness justify some paternalistic protections of research subjects. (shrink)
In this paper I trace Husserl’s transformation of his notion of phantasy from its strong leanings towards empiricism into a transcendental phenomenology of imagination. Rejecting the view that this account is only more incompatible with contemporary neuroscientific research, I instead claim that the transcendental suspension of naturalistic (or scientific) pretensions precisely enables cooperation between the two distinct realms of phenomenology and science. In particular, a transcendental account of phantasy can disclose the specific accomplishments of imagination without prematurely deciding upon a (...) particular scientific paradigm for its experimental investigation; a decision that is best left to the sciences themselves. (shrink)
It has long been a standard practice for the natural sciences to classify things. Thus, it is no wonder that, for two and a half millennia, philosophers have been reflecting on classifications, from Plato and Aristotle to contemporary philosophy of science. Some of the results of these reflections will be presented in this chapter. I will start by discussing a parody of a classification, namely: the purportedly ancient Chinese classification of animals described by Jorge Luis Borges. I will show that (...) many of the mistakes that account for the comic features of this parody appear in real-life scientific databases as well. As examples of the latter, I will discuss the terminology database of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the United States, the NCI Thesaurus. (shrink)
Recent years have witnessed a growing concern that terminally illpatients are needlessly suffering in the dying process. This has ledto demands that physicians become more attentive in the assessment ofsuffering and that they treat their patients as `whole persons.'' Forthe most part, these demands have not fallen on deaf ears. It is nowwidely accepted that the relief of suffering is one of the fundamentalgoals of medicine. Without question this is a positive development.However, while the importance of treating suffering has generally (...) beenacknowledged, insufficient attention has been paid to the question ofwhether different types of terminal suffering require differnt responsesfrom health care professionals. In this paper we introduce a distinctionbetween two types of suffering likely to be present at the end of life,and we argue that physicians must distinguish between these types if theyare to respond appropriately to the suffering of their terminally illpatients. After introducing this distinction and explaining its basis,we further argue that the distinction informs a (novel) principle ofproportionality, one that should guide physicians in balancing theircompeting obligations in responding to terminal suffering. As weexplain, this principle is justified by reference to the intereststerminally ill patients have in restoration, as well as in therelief of suffering, at the end of life. (shrink)
In an era of rapidly rising health care costs, physicians and policymakers are searching for new and effective ways to contain health care spending without sacrificing the quality of services provided. These proposals are increasingly articulated in terms of an ethical duty of stewardship. The duty of stewardship in medicine, however, is not at present well understood, and it is frequently conflated with other duties. This article presents a critical analysis of the notion of stewardship, which shows that it has (...) an important and distinctive place in medical ethics. It claims that stewardship in medicine concerns the responsible use of a society’s medical resources and it discusses the extent to which medical professionals are the proper stewards of these resources. The article argues that the duty of stewardship is best understood as a duty that applies in a space between the obligations of health care providers to provide beneficent care to their patients on the one hand and the obligations of citizens to bring about and support a just health care system on the other. Seen with clear eyes, stewardship in medicine is neither a consequence of beneficent medical care nor a substitute for justice. (shrink)
Like the doctrine of the categories in general, Aristotle’s category of the relative fulfils disparate functions: On the one hand, the category of the pros ti fulfils a dialectic or logical function that aims at the avoidance of fallacies. On the other hand, the category respects the peculiar mode of being of the relative. Taking these two different functions into consideration helps with the interpretation of Aristotle’s two definitions of the relative and his treatment of the properties of the relative (...) in Cat. 7, with the question whether corresponding relatives are of equal priority or ontologically independent, with the genus-species problem , and with the categorical classification of potency and act. (shrink)
Purpose Recent research has found unrealistic optimism among patient-subjects in early-phase oncology trials. Our aim was to investigate the cognitive and motivational factors that evoke this bias in this context. We expected perceptions of control to be a strong correlate of unrealistic optimism. Methods A study of patient-subjects enrolled in early-phase oncology trials was conducted at two sites in the USA. Respondents completed questionnaires designed to assess unrealistic optimism and several risk attribute variables that have been found to evoke the (...) bias in other contexts. Results One hundred and seventy-one patient-subjects agreed to be interviewed for our study. Significant levels of perceived controllability were found with respect to all nine research-related questions. Perceptions of control were found to predict unrealistic optimism. Two other risk attribute variables, awareness of indicators and mental image, were correlated with unrealistic optimism. However, in multivariate regression analysis, awareness and mental image dropped out of the model and perceived controllability was the only factor independently associated with unrealistic optimism. Conclusion Patient-subjects reported that they can, at least partially, control the benefits they receive from participating in an early-phase oncology trial. This sense of control may underlie unrealistic optimism about benefiting personally from trial participation. Effective interventions to counteract unrealistic optimism may need to address the psychological factors that give rise to distorted risk/benefit processing. (shrink)
Chalmers introduced the hard problem of consciousness as a profound gap between experience and physical concepts. Philosophical theories were based on different interpretations concerning the qualia/concept gap, such as interactive dualism (Descartes), as well as mono aspect or dual aspect monism. From a bio-psychological perspective, the gap can be explained by the different activity of two mental functions realizing a mental representation of extra-mental reality. The function of elementary sensation requires active sense organs, which create an uninterrupted physical chain from (...) extra-mental reality to the brain and reflect the present. The function of categorizing reflection no longer needs sense organs, so that the physical chain to extra-mental reality is interrupted and now reflects the past. Whereas elementary sensation is an open system, categorizing reflection remains a closed system, separated from extra-mental reality. This creates the potentiality/reality gap, since prediction from the closed to the open system remains always uncertain. Elementary sensation is associated to specific qualia for each sense organ. Chalmers also attributed qualia to thoughts, with more neutral thought qualia. Thus at the qualia level, there is also an important gap, but now between specific sense qualia and neutral thought qualia. Since all physical concepts are simultaneously linked to neutral thought qualia, the hard problem might be explained by a qualia/qualia gap instead of a qualia/concept gap. The mental function of categorizing reflection induces the change from sense qualia to thought qualia by a categorization process. The specific sense qualia mosaic of an apple is reduced to physical concepts with neutral qualia by progressive categorization first to fruit, then to food, to chemicals and finally to calories. This might explain the gap felt in the hard problem, since specific sense qualia are completely different from neutral thought qualia, so that the hard problem could already be encountered at the qualia level. Since the gap of the hard problem is due to the interaction of different mental functions, it is compatible with a philosophical monism. (shrink)
Scholars have recognized that contentious political action typically draws on relatively stable scripts for the enactment of claims making. But if such repertoires of political practice are generally reproduced over time, why and how do new modes of practice emerge? Employing a pragmatist perspective on social action, this article argues that change in political repertoires can be usefully understood as a result of situated political innovation—i.e., of the creative recombination of existing practices, through experimentation over time, by interacting political agents (...) for whom old repertoires were proving inadequate to the changing context of action. The utility of this approach is demonstrated by applying it to explain the historical emergence of a new set of populist mobilizing practices in early twentieth-century Peru. The results have implications for the study of political action and historical change. (shrink)
Statements about the behavior of biochemical entities (e.g., about the interaction between two proteins) abound in the literature on molecular biology and are increasingly becoming the targets of information extraction and text mining techniques. We show that an accurate analysis of the semantics of such statements reveals a number of ambiguities that have to be taken into account in the practice of biomedical ontology engineering: Such statements can not only be understood as event reporting statements, but also as ascriptions of (...) dispositions or tendencies that may or may not refer to collectives of interacting molecules or even to collectives of interaction events. (shrink)
After a short sketch of Lowe’s account of his four basic categories, I discuss his theory of formal ontological relations and how Lowe wants to account for dispositional predications. I argue that on the ontic level Lowe is a pan-categoricalist, while he is a language dualist and an exemplification dualist with regard to the dispositional/categorical distinction. I argue that Lowe does not present an adequate account of disposition. From an Aristotelian point of view, Lowe conflates dispositional predication with hôs epi (...) to poly statements about what is normally or mostly the case. (shrink)
How much violence can a society expect its members to accept? A comparison between the language theories of Julia Kristeva and Jacques Lacan is the starting point for answering this question. A look at the early stages of language acquisition exposes the sacrificial logic of patriarchal society. Are those forces that restrict the individual to be conceived in a martial imagery of castration or is it possible that an existing society critically questions those points of socialization that leave their members (...) in a state of homelessness? The following considerations should help to distinguish between unavoidable and avoidable forms of violence. (shrink)
Is a bank note identical with the piece of paper of which it consists? On the one hand, John Searle, in his reply to Barry Smith, suggests that they are “one and the same object” that is a social or non-social object only under certain descriptions. On the other hand, Lynne Rudder Baker puts forward the claim that bank note and paper are distinct entities that are bound together by the relation of material constitution. I suggest two possible analyses for (...) Searle’s description relativity claim, the Alternative Subject Analysis and the Predicate Modification Analysis. On both accounts his identity claim gets into serious trouble. While Baker’s definition of material constitution deals well with the bank note example, it fails to account for the constitution of bearerless social entities and groups. I point out five respects in which social constitution can differ from Baker’s account of material constitution and discuss compositional, institutional and interactional constitution as additional varieties of social constitution. (shrink)
The term “exploitation” has gained wide currency in recent discussions of biomedical and research ethics. This is due in no small measure to the influence of Alan Wertheimer’s path-breaking work on the topic (Wertheimer 1999, 2011). Wertheimer presented a clear and compelling non-Marxist account of the concept of exploitation—one that stressed the connection between exploitation and unfair distributive outcomes. On this account, when one party exploits another, she takes advantage of the other to gain unfairly. A number of contemporary bioethicists (...) have accepted Wertheimer’s account of exploitation and have proceeded to apply it to a range of issues in research ethics (Hawkins and Emanuel 2008; Miller and Brody .. (shrink)
The beginning of the 21st century has seen the renewed use of aesthetics as a critical and interpretive method within various discursive spheres. Particularly, and unsurprisingly, this move has been most pronounced in the discursive systems of philosophy and the artworld. It is to this more specific re-discovery that the authors in this journal address their arguments.
The ethical standards that regulate clinical research have multiple rationales. Among them is the need to protect potential subjects from making imprudent decisions, which extends beyond the soft paternalistic concern to protect people from making uninformed decisions to participate in trials. This article argues that a plausible risk/benefit restriction on clinical trials is presumptively justified by hard paternalism, which in turn is supported by a deeper fairness-based rationale. This presumptive case for hard paternalism in research is not defeated by the (...) alleged right to participate in clinical trials, by concerns about insult or status, by the need to conduct early phase trials that promise little to no benefit to participants, or by the recognition that some potential subjects are altruistically motivated. (shrink)
Recent empirical work on the concept of intentionality suggests that people’s assessments of whether an action is intentional are subject to uncertainty. Some researchers have gone so far as to claim that different people employ different concepts of intentional action. These possibilities have motivated a good deal of work in the relatively new ﬁeld of experimental philosophy. The ﬁndings from this empirical research may prove to be relevant to medical ethics. -/- In this article, we address this issue head on. (...) We ﬁrst describe a study we conducted on intention ascription. Drawing on recent work in experimental philosophy, we investigated the possibility that the ascription of intentions to clinical actors in clinical settings is inﬂuenced by prior judgments about the goodness or badness of the consequences of the action in question. Our study was modeled on experimental studies in other contexts that have shown that people, when presented with a range of scenarios, are more likely to classify a side effect of an action as intended if the side effect is negative or reﬂects poorly on the actor than if it is positive or reﬂects well on the actor. We investigated whether this asymmetry in intention ascriptions was also present among physicians who were asked to ascribe intentions to clinical actors in certain well-deﬁned clinical scenarios. After describing the study and its results, we discuss its implications for medical ethics. (shrink)
Taking Thomas Aquinas's interpretation of the prologue of St John's gospel (in his Lectura super loannem Evangelium) as example, I first discuss eight differences between medieval biblical interpretation and modern exegesis, especially Aquinas's frequent use of philosophical opinions in interpreting the Bible, taken mostly from Aristotle. Second, I account for these differences by reconstructing Aquinas's hermeneutics, hinging, as is shown, upon the assumption that scripture was authored by God infallible and, therefore, only contains true statements. From this starting point Aquinas (...) is lead to a holistic hermeneutics: The interpretation of a biblical statement can be judged on only within the context of an entire theory of God, the world, and of the interpretation of the other biblical statements. Thirdly, this view is discussed systematically and critically. (shrink)
The construction of complex ontologies can be facilitated by adapting existing vocabularies. There is little clarity and in fact little consensus as to what modifications of vocabularies are necessary in order to re-engineer them into ontologies. In this paper we present a method that provides clear steps to follow when re-engineering a thesaurus. The method makes use of top-level ontologies and was derived from the structural differences between thesauri and ontologies as well as from best practices in modeling, some of (...) which have been advocated in the biomedical domain. We illustrate each step of our method with examples from a re-engineering case study about agricultural fertilizers based on the AGROVOC thesaurus. Our method makes clear that re-engineering thesauri requires far more than just a syntactic conversion into a formal language or other easily automatable steps. The method can not only be used for re-engineering thesauri, but does also summarize steps for building ontologies in general, and can hence be adapted for the re-engineering of other types of vocabularies or terminologies. (shrink)
Biobanks correspond to different situations: research and technological development, medical diagnosis or therapeutic activities. Their status is not clearly defined. We aimed to investigate human biobanking in Europe, particularly in relation to organisational, economic and ethical issues in various national contexts. Data from a survey in six EU countries were collected as part of a European Research Project examining human and non-human biobanking. A total of 147 institutions concerned with biobanking of human samples and data were investigated by questionnaires and (...) interviews. Most institutions surveyed belong to the public or private non-profit-making sectors, which have a key role in biobanking. This activity is increasing in all countries because few samples are discarded and genetic research is proliferating. Collections vary in size, many being small and only a few very large. Their purpose is often research, or research and healthcare, mostly in the context of disease studies. A specific budget is very rarely allocated to biobanking and costs are not often evaluated. Samples are usually provided free of charge and gifts and exchanges are the common rule. Good practice guidelines are generally followed and quality controls are performed but quality procedures are not always clearly explained. Associated data are usually computerised. Biobankers generally favour centralisation of data rather than of samples. Legal and ethical harmonisation within Europe is considered likely to facilitate international collaboration. We propose a series of recommendations and suggestions arising from the EUROGENBANK project. (shrink)