SYMBIOTIC EMPIRICAL ETHICS: A PRACTICAL METHODOLOGY
Article first published online: 6 OCT 2010
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Volume 26, Issue 4, pages 198–206, May 2012
How to Cite
FRITH, L. (2012), SYMBIOTIC EMPIRICAL ETHICS: A PRACTICAL METHODOLOGY. Bioethics, 26: 198–206. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2010.01843.x
- Issue published online: 9 APR 2012
- Article first published online: 6 OCT 2010
- ethical theory;
- empirical ethics;
- social science
Like any discipline, bioethics is a developing field of academic inquiry; and recent trends in scholarship have been towards more engagement with empirical research. This ‘empirical turn’ has provoked extensive debate over how such ‘descriptive’ research carried out in the social sciences contributes to the distinctively normative aspect of bioethics. This paper will address this issue by developing a practical research methodology for the inclusion of data from social science studies into ethical deliberation. This methodology will be based on a naturalistic conception of ethical theory that sees practice as informing theory just as theory informs practice – the two are symbiotically related. From this engagement with practice, the ways that such theories need to be extended and developed can be determined. This is a practical methodology for integrating theory and practice that can be used in empirical studies, one that uses ethical theory both to explore the data and to draw normative conclusions.