Challenges of macro-ethics: bioethics and the transformation of knowledge production
Zwart, Hub, 1960-
Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 2008 December; 5(4): 283-293
One interesting aspect of the Hwang-case has been the way in which this affair was assessed by academic journals such as Nature. Initially, Hwang s success was regarded as evidence for the detrimental effects of research ethics, slowing down the pace of research in Western countries. Eventually, however, Hwang s debacle was seen as evidence for the importance of ethics in the life sciences. Ironically, it was concluded that the West maintains its prominence in science (as a global endeavour) precisely because it has its ethics in place. Bioethics was now seen as an indispensable part of quality control. In this article, I will claim that the Hwang case rather reveals that there is no reason for complacency and that there are substantial challenges awaiting us. They have to do with major transformations in the way knowledge is produced and research in the life sciences is conducted (such as the increase in pace and scale, globalisation and the growing importance of ICT and bioinformation). These transformations call for a different kind of bioethics. The focus must shift from duties of autonomous researchers concerning visible research subjects ( micro-ethics ) to responsibilities of institutionalised research networks in managing and processing large amounts of bioinformation ( macro-ethics ). Concepts such as transparency, reliability and benefit-sharing will become more important than concepts such as informed consent. Basically, it is a resurgence of the tension between the Kantian and the Hegelian view of ethics. The contours of macro-ethics will be elaborated notably as it is emerging in bioethical debates over biobanking and genetic databanks.
Bioethics; Consent; Ethics; Informed Consent; Knowledge; Life; Life Sciences; Nature; Quality Control; Research; Research Ethics; Research Subjects; Researchers; Responsibilities; Science; Philosophical Ethics; Bioethics; Social Control of Science and Technology; Professional Misconduct; Genetics, Molecular Biology and Microbiology; Stem Cell Research; International and Political Dimensions of Biology and Medicine; Animal Experimentation; Information Science Ethics; Scientific Research Ethics;
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