Developing the ethical matrix as a decision support framework: GM fish as a case study

  • Matthias Kaiser
  • Kate Millar
  • Erik Thorstensen
  • Sandy Tomkins
Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

biotechnology decision support Ethical frameworks Ethical Matrix GM fish 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was conducted as part of the EC funded project under DG Research, FP5, Quality of Life program, “Ethical Bio TA tools,” (QLG6-CT-2002-02594). The funding and the inspiring collaboration of all other consortium members are gratefully acknowledged.

References

  1. Beauchamp T. L., Childress J. F. (2002). Principles of Biomedical Ethics, 5th edn. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  2. Chadwick R. S., Henson B., Moseley G., Koenen M., Liakopoulos C., Midden A., Palou G., Rechkemmer D., Schroeder D., von Wright A. (2003). Functional Foods. Springer Verlag, BerlinGoogle Scholar
  3. FAO/WHO (2003), FAO/WHO expert consultation on the safety assessment of foods derived from genetically modified animals including fish, November 2003, Rome: FAO/WHO, pp. 17–21Google Scholar
  4. Føllesdal D., Walløe L., Elster J. (1986). Rationale Argumentation. W. de Gruyter, Berlin, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  5. Forsberg, E. M. (2007), “Value Pluralism and Coherentist Justification of Ethical Advice.” Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 20. Doi: 10.1007/S10806-006-9017-16Google Scholar
  6. Kaiser, M. (2004), “Xenotransplantation – Ethical Considerations Based on Human and Societal Perspectives,” in W. Farstad, Ø. Andresen, O. Nyberg, and B. Christensen (eds.), Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica, Proceedings of the 16th Internordic Symposium of the Nordic Committee for Veterinary Scientific Cooperation on Animal Organs to Save Human Lives, Suppl. 99, pp. 65–73Google Scholar
  7. Kaiser M., Forsberg E. M. (2001). Assessing Fisheries – Using an Ethical Matrix in a Participatory Process. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 14: 192–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Mepham, B. (1996). “Ethical Analysis of Food Biotechnologies: An Evaluative Framework,” in B. Mepham (ed.), Food Ethics, London: Routledge, pp. 101–119Google Scholar
  9. Mepham B. (2000). A Framework for the Ethical Analysis of Novel Foods: The Ethical Matrix. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 12: 165–176CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Mepham B. (2001). Novel Foods. in: Chadwick R. (ed.) Concise Encyclopaedia of Ethics and New Technologies. Academic Press, San Diego, pp. 300–313Google Scholar
  11. Mepham B. (2005). Bioethics: An Introduction for the Biosciences. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  12. Mepham, B. and S. Tomkins (2003), Ethics and Animal Farming: An Interactive Web Program. www.ethicalmatrix.netGoogle Scholar
  13. Mepham B., Kaiser M., Thorstensen E., Tomkins S., Millar K. (2006). Ethical Matrix User Manual. Agricultural Economics Research Institute, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  14. Millar K. (2002). Thinking about Cleaning Up: The Ethics of Bioremediation. Science and Public Affairs 3: 20–21Google Scholar
  15. Moore, C. J. (1996), A Bioethical Analysis of Transgenesis in Animals. PhD thesis, University of NottinghamGoogle Scholar
  16. Schroeder D., Palmer C. (2003). Technology Assessment and the Ethical Matrix. Poiesis Praxis 1: 295–307Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthias Kaiser
    • 1
  • Kate Millar
    • 2
  • Erik Thorstensen
    • 1
  • Sandy Tomkins
    • 2
  1. 1.National Committee for Research Ethics in Science and Technology (NENT)OsloNorway
  2. 2.Centre for Applied Bioethics, School of BiosciencesUniversity of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington CampusLoughboroughUK

Personalised recommendations