Applied ethics

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L005-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 23, 2024, from

8. Research in applied ethics

In general, those who fund research regard the gathering of facts, often called the ‘generation of new knowledge’, as crucial; philosophy, in contrast, appears to involve reflection on facts, while normative philosophy generates proposals for action or policy. Applied ethics offers at its best an opportunity to combine these approaches: for facts to be made the fruitful object of analytic and morally sensitive reflection, and for philosophical inquiry to accept the discipline of the need to take account of the practical framework within which speculation is cast.

Research in applied ethics, then, ideally starts from a perceived problem and is motivated to find a solution to that problem. It is frequently interdisciplinary. A research programme is often inspired by technological progress, for it is this that has placed ethical considerations at the heart of many areas of public debate. Typical of these are the controversies already mentioned surrounding the new technologies of reproduction: embryo research, donation of gametes, surrogate motherhood, which raise questions about the status of the human embryo and the definition of parenthood (see Reproduction and ethics).

Other appropriate areas where ethics impinges on practical inquiry include, for example, the ethical implications of the Human Genome Project, the ethics of confidentiality, insurance in relation to AIDS or inherited disease, the care of the elderly, homelessness, and mental illness (see Genetics and ethics; Medical ethics §§4–5; Nursing ethics). One caveat to be noted here, however, is that simply gathering data about what people think is right is sociology, not ethics, applied or otherwise.

Citing this article:
Almond, Brenda. Research in applied ethics. Applied ethics, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L005-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

Related Searches


Related Articles