Bioinformation: the philosophical and ethical issues at stake in a new modality of research practices
de Bouvet, Armelle
Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 2006; 9(2): 201-209
This article deals with the integration of ethical reflection into the research practices of the project at the Lille Nord-Pas-de-Calais genopole: "Multifactorial genetic pathologies and therapeutic innovations". The general hypothesis of this text is that changes in research practices in biology (mainly through the use of bioinformatics) imply changes in medical practices, which require critical reflection. This hypothesis could be broken down into three sub-hypotheses: (1) Research in biology is undergoing a complete transformation; (2) Research in biology is a cultural practice, which cannot be reduced to a simple cognitive action; (3) Research in biology is a techno-scientific practice. As for the method, the aim of our research at the Medical Ethics Centre is to elucidate the philosophical and ethical range of biomedical practices. This work entails a double task for reflection. On the one hand, from the revelation of ethical tensions present in these practices, we have to think about what is at stake in these practices, and more broadly in society. On the other hand, we have to analyse the conditions enabling the actors to assume the significance of ethical reflection in their practices. The method set up to undertake this double task could be qualified as "narrative hermeneutics", as its aim is to attempt to interpret the stakes in practices from proximity with these practices and from what their actors have to say about them. The text then goes on to analyse more specifically the emergence and place of bioinformatics in present-day biomedical research.
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