Critical Realism and Empirical Bioethics: A Methodological Exposition

Critical Realism and Empirical Bioethics: A Methodological Exposition This paper shows how critical realism can be used to integrate empirical data and philosophical analysis within ‘empirical bioethics’. The term empirical bioethics, whilst appearing oxymoronic, simply refers to an interdisciplinary approach to the resolution of practical ethical issues within the biological and life sciences, integrating social scientific, empirical data with philosophical analysis. It seeks to achieve a balanced form of ethical deliberation that is both logically rigorous and sensitive to context, to generate normative conclusions that are practically applicable to the problem, challenge, or dilemma. Since it incorporates both philosophical and social scientific components, empirical bioethics is a field that is consistent with the use of critical realism as a research methodology. The integration of philosophical and social scientific approaches to ethics has been beset with difficulties, not least because of the irreducibly normative, rather than descriptive, nature of ethical analysis and the contested relation between fact and value. However, given that facts about states of affairs inform potential courses of action and their consequences, there is a need to overcome these difficulties and successfully integrate data with theory. Previous approaches have been formulated to overcome obstacles in combining philosophical and social scientific perspectives in bioethical analysis; however each has shortcomings. As a mature interdisciplinary approach critical realism is well suited to empirical bioethics, although it has hitherto not been widely used. Here I show how it can be applied to this kind of research and explain how it represents an improvement on previous approaches. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Health Care Analysis Springer Journals

Critical Realism and Empirical Bioethics: A Methodological Exposition

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2015 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Subject
Medicine & Public Health; Public Health; Philosophy of Medicine; Ethics; Health Informatics
ISSN
1065-3058
eISSN
1573-3394
D.O.I.
10.1007/s10728-015-0290-2
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This paper shows how critical realism can be used to integrate empirical data and philosophical analysis within ‘empirical bioethics’. The term empirical bioethics, whilst appearing oxymoronic, simply refers to an interdisciplinary approach to the resolution of practical ethical issues within the biological and life sciences, integrating social scientific, empirical data with philosophical analysis. It seeks to achieve a balanced form of ethical deliberation that is both logically rigorous and sensitive to context, to generate normative conclusions that are practically applicable to the problem, challenge, or dilemma. Since it incorporates both philosophical and social scientific components, empirical bioethics is a field that is consistent with the use of critical realism as a research methodology. The integration of philosophical and social scientific approaches to ethics has been beset with difficulties, not least because of the irreducibly normative, rather than descriptive, nature of ethical analysis and the contested relation between fact and value. However, given that facts about states of affairs inform potential courses of action and their consequences, there is a need to overcome these difficulties and successfully integrate data with theory. Previous approaches have been formulated to overcome obstacles in combining philosophical and social scientific perspectives in bioethical analysis; however each has shortcomings. As a mature interdisciplinary approach critical realism is well suited to empirical bioethics, although it has hitherto not been widely used. Here I show how it can be applied to this kind of research and explain how it represents an improvement on previous approaches.

Journal

Health Care AnalysisSpringer Journals

Published: Feb 26, 2015

References

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