Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks: The Role of Analogies in Bioethical Analysis and Argumentation Concerning New Technologies

Article

Abstract

New medical technologies provide us with new possibilities in health care and health care research. Depending on their degree of novelty, they may as well present us with a whole range of unforeseen normative challenges. Partly, this is due to a lack of appropriate norms to perceive and handle new technologies. This article investigates our ways of establishing such norms. We argue that in this respect analogies have at least two normative functions: they inform both our understanding and our conduct. Furthermore, as these functions are intertwined and can blur moral debates, a functional investigation of analogies can be a fruitful part of ethical analysis. We argue that although analogies can be conservative; because they bring old concepts to bear upon new ones, there are at least three ways in which they can be creative. First, understandings of new technologies are quite different from the analogies that established them, and come to be analogies themselves. That is, the concepts may turn out to be quite different from the analogies that established them. Second, analogies transpose similarities from one area into another, where they previously had no bearing. Third, analogies tend to have a figurative function, bringing in something new and different from the content of the analogies. We use research-biobanking as a practical example in our investigations.

Keywords

Analogies biobank research epistemological norms moral norms 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to Jennifer Harris, Roger Strand, Jan Reinert Karlsen, Anne Cambon Thompson, Paula Lobato de Faria and Anne Maria Skrikerud for valuable comments to an earlier draft of this manuscript. We also thank the anonymous referees for insightful comments and constructive suggestions, and the Norwegian Research Council for funding the research.

References

  1. Annas G.J. (1999) “Waste and Longing – The Legal Status of Placental-Blood Banking.” New England Journal of Medicine 340: 1521–1524CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baaske K. (1991) Analogic Argument in Public Discourse: A Reconsideration of the Nature and Function of Analogy. In: van Eemeren F.H., Grootendurst R., Blair J.A., Willard C.A. (eds) Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Argument. Sic Sat, Amsterdam, pp. 411–415Google Scholar
  3. Black M. (1962) Metaphors. In: Max Black (eds) Models and Metaphors: Studies in Language and Philosophy. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp. 19–43Google Scholar
  4. Campbell N.R. (1920) Physics: The Element. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  5. Childress J.F. “Metaphor and Analogy.” In: Encyclopedia of Bioethics, revised edition. Edited by Warren Thomas Reich. 1834–1843. New York: Simon and Schuster Macmillan, 2004.Google Scholar
  6. Court of Appeals, D.C. In re. A.C. Atlantic Reporter 573 (1990): 1235-264Google Scholar
  7. Dworkin G. (1988) The Theory and Practice of Autonomy. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Gentner G., Holyoak K.J., Kokinov B.K. (2001) The Analogical Mind: Perspectives from Cognitive Science. The MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  9. Govier T. A Practical Study of Argument, sixth ed. Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing, 2005Google Scholar
  10. Hawkes T. (1972) Metaphor. Methuen, LondonGoogle Scholar
  11. Hesse B. (1981) The Function of Analogies in Science. In: Tweney R., etal., (eds) On Scientific Thinking. Columbia University Press, New York, pp. 345–348Google Scholar
  12. Hesse M.B. (1966) Models and Analogies in Science. University of Notre Dame Press, Notre DameGoogle Scholar
  13. Hofmann, B., J.H. Solbakk, and S. Holm. “Analogic Reasoning and Technology in Biobanking – an Umbilical Perspective.” American Journal of Bioethics (In Press)Google Scholar
  14. Holyoak K.J., Thagard P. (1996) Mental Leaps: Analogy in Creative Thought. The MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  15. Jonsen A.R., Toulmin S. (1988) The Abuse of Casuistry. University of California Press, BerkleyGoogle Scholar
  16. Kamm F.M. (2003) Harming some to save others. In: Darwell S. (eds) Deontology. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, pp. 162–93Google Scholar
  17. Kevles B. (1997) Naked to the Bone: Medical Imaging in the Twentieth Century. Rutgers University Press, New BrunswickGoogle Scholar
  18. Lakoff G., Johnson M. (1980) Metaphors We Live By. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  19. Latour B. (1986) Laboratory Life: The Construction of Scientific Facts. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  20. Lueken G.L. (1997) On Showing in Argumentation. Philosophical Investigations 20:205–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. McCroskey J.C., Combs W.H. (1969) The Effects of the Use of Analogy on Attitude Change and Source Credibility. Journal of Communication 19:333–339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Salmon W.C. (1973) Logic. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs NJGoogle Scholar
  23. Shelley C. (2003) Multiple Analogies in Science and Philosophy. John Benjamins Publishing Company, Amsterdam/PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  24. Silverman D., Torode B. (1980) The Material Word: Some Theories of Language and its Limits. Routledge & Kegan Paul, LondonGoogle Scholar
  25. Strand R, Rørtveit G., Schei E. (2004/2005) Complex Systems and Human Complexity in Medicine. Complexus 2:2–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Thomson J.J. (1990) The Trolley Problem. In: Thomson J.J. (eds) The Realm of Rights. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, pp. 176–204Google Scholar
  27. Whaley B.B. (1998) Evaluations of Rebuttal Analogy Users: Ethical and Competence Considerations. Argumentation 12:351–365CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bjørn Hofmann
    • 1
    • 4
  • Jan Helge Solbakk
    • 1
    • 3
  • Søren Holm
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Section for Medical EthicsUniversity of OsloBlindernNorway
  2. 2.Cardiff Centre for Ethics, Law and SocietyUniversity of CardiffWalesUK
  3. 3.Centre for International HealthUniversity of BergenBergenNorway
  4. 4.Department of Health TechnologyGjøvik CollegeGjøvikNorway

Personalised recommendations