The Ethical Matrix was developed to help decision-makers explore the ethical issues raised by agri-food biotechnologies. Over the decade since its inception the Ethical Matrix has been used by a number of organizations and the philosophical basis of the framework has been discussed and analyzed extensively. The role of tools such as the Ethical Matrix in public policy decision-making has received increasing attention. In order to further develop the methodological aspects of the Ethical Matrix method, work was carried out to (...) study the potential role of the Ethical Matrix as a decision support framework. When considering which frameworks to apply when analyzing the ethical dimensions of the application of agri-food biotechnologies, it is important to clarify the substantive nature of any prospective framework. In order to further investigate this issue, reflections on the neologism “ethical soundness” of an ethical framework are presented here. This concept is introduced in order to provide more structured evaluations of a range of ethical tools, including ethical frameworks such as the Ethical Matrix. As well as examining the philosophical dimensions of the method, theoretical analysis and literature studies were combined with stakeholder engagement exercises and consultations in order to review the Ethical Matrix from a user perspective. This work resulted in the development of an Ethical Matrix Manual, which is intended to act as a guide for potential user groups. (shrink)
A number of EU institutions and government committees across Europe have expressed interest in developing methods and decision-support tools to facilitate consideration of the ethical dimensions of biotechnology assessment. As part of the work conducted in the EC supported project on ethical tools (Ethical Bio-TA Tools), a number of ethical frameworks with the potential to support the work of public policy decision-makers has been characterized and evaluated. One of these potential tools is the Delphi method. The Delphi method was originally (...) developed to assess variables that are intangible and/or shrouded in uncertainty by drawing on the knowledge and abilities of a diverse group of experts through a form of anonymous and iterative consultation. The method has hitherto been used by a diversity of practitioners to explore issues such as technology assessment, environmental planning, and public health measures. From the original (classical) Delphi, a family of Delphi-related processes has emerged. As a result of the evaluation of the various Delphi processes, it is proposed that the classical method can be further developed and applied as a form of ethical framework to assist policy-makers. Through a series of exercises and trials, an Ethical Delphi has been developed as a potential approach for characterizing ethical issues raised by the use of novel biotechnologies. Advantages and disadvantages of the method are discussed. Further work is needed to develop the procedural aspects of the Ethical Delphi method and to test its use in different cultural contexts. However, utilizing an ethical framework of this type combines the advantages of a methodical approach to capture ethical aspects with the democratic virtues of transparency and openness to criticism. Ethical frameworks such as the Ethical Delphi should contribute to better understanding of and decision-making on issues that involve decisive ethical dimensions. (shrink)
This paper analyzes a European research project called ‘Deepening Ethical Engagement and Participation in Emerging Nanotechnologies’ with the abbreviation DEEPEN. The DEEPEN’s findings and conclusions on the narratives, public understandings and the lay ethics of nanotechnologies are examined in a critical manner. Through a criticism of the theoretical framings of what constitutes a narrative and the application of a different theoretical framing of narratives, the paper argues that the findings and conclusion of the DEEPEN should be approached with caution as (...) there are several unjustified claims concerning the contextualization of the findings. Such claims pertain to the theoretical framing of narratives, virtue ethics, modernity, lay attitudes, and earlier research. (shrink)
The presence of experts holding patents and simultaneously providing policy advice on areas where they hold patents pose several normative questions. Through a comparative study of several IPCC reports, this article documents the scope of this phenomenon and discusses it with respect to a theory of conflict of interest. Seemingly, it is more likely to be patent-holders on issues of infrastructures, industry and transport rather than for single technologies as such. According to insights from studies on conflict of interest, there (...) is an increased risk for bias. The article investigates the possible relations between patenting and conflicts of interest according to theoretical and empirical insights from the relation between science and society. (shrink)
People tell stories. In stories, the narrator and the receiver can perceive meanings. These meanings can be analyzed again through larger interpretative framings. In this article, different ethical uses of the golem story are analyzed by making use of some of Jörn Rüsen’s ideas concerning historical thinking and narration and with a focus on the uses of the golem myth in studies and discussions on new and emerging science and technology.
The approach to innovations known as Responsible research and innovation aims to move the innovation system towards creating products that strive to realize social values along with economic benefits. This paper discusses the systematic assessment of assistive technologies in order for them to meet the aims expressed in RRI. A central issue in the discussion is how to facilitate an integration of insights from the discourse on RRI with more established assessment approaches such as Health Technology Assessment. Based on the (...) literature on existing socio-ethical assessment tools, I investigate how these tools can be combined with HTA and how they can add perspectives from RRI that might increase the socio-ethical value of assistive technologies. Through a discussion on how to understand RRI, HTA, assessment and integration, I suggest a list of four possible approaches that have the potential to be applied as assessment approaches that integrate insights from RRI and HTA. These are then evaluated on their ability to address issues that have emerged from a literature review on RRI and assistive technologies, on empirical studies in this technology field and on their product focus. In conclusion, I argue that the Ethical Impact Assessment, the Socratic approach, the Ethical Matrix, and the HTA Core Model seem to be the most promising methodologies, but that these need adjustments to cover substantive themes from RRI. _Keywords:_ energy scenarios, justice, future generations, capabilities approach. (shrink)