Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 425–445

Facilitating Ethical Reflection Among Scientists Using the Ethical Matrix

  • Karsten Klint Jensen
  • Ellen-Marie Forsberg
  • Christian Gamborg
  • Kate Millar
  • Peter Sandøe
Article

Abstract

Several studies have indicated that scientists are likely to have an outlook on both facts and values that are different to that of lay people in important ways. This is one significant reason it is currently believed that in order for scientists to exercise a reliable ethical reflection about their research it is necessary for them to engage in dialogue with other stakeholders. This paper reports on an exercise to encourage a group of scientists to reflect on ethical issues without the presence of external stakeholders. It reports on the use of a reflection process with scientists working in the area of animal disease genomics (mainly drawn from the EADGENE EC Network of Excellence). This reflection process was facilitated by using an ethical engagement framework, a modified version of the Ethical Matrix. As judged by two criteria, a qualitative assessment of the outcomes and the participants’ own assessment of the process, this independent reflective exercise was deemed to be successful. The discussions demonstrated a high level of complexity and depth, with participants demonstrating a clear perception of uncertainties and the context in which their research operates. Reflection on stakeholder views and values appeared to be embedded within the discussions. The finding from this exercise seems to indicate that even without the involvement of the wider stakeholder community, valuable reflection and worthwhile discourse can be generated from ethical reflection processes involving only scienitific project partners. Hence, the previous assumption that direct stakeholder engagement is necessary for ethical reflection does not appear to hold true in all cases; however, other reasons for involving a broad group of stakeholders relating to governance and social accountability of science remain.

Keywords

Animal disease genomics Ethics Ethical matrix Ethical reflection Stakeholder engagement Participatory methods 

References

  1. England, G., & Millar, K. (2008). The ethics and role of AI with fresh and frozen semen in dogs. Reproduction in Domestic Animals, 43(2), 165–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Forsberg, E.-M. (2007a). A deliberative ethical matrix methodJustification of moral advice on genetic engineering in food production. Dr. Art. Dissertation. Oslo, Unipub.Google Scholar
  3. Forsberg, E.-M. (2007b). Report from a value workshop on GM Rapeseed. In W. Zollitsch, C. Winkler, S. Waiblinger, & A. Haslberger (Eds.), Sustainable food production and ethics (pp. 442–449). Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  4. Kaiser, M. (2005). Assessing ethics and animal welfare in animal biotechnology for farm production. OiE review. Revue Scientifique Et Technique Office International Des Epizooties, 24, 75–87.Google Scholar
  5. Lassen, J., Madsen, K. H., & Sandoe, P. (2002). Ethics and genetic engineering—lessons to be learned from GM foods. Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering, 24(5), 263–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Mepham, B., Kaiser, M., Thorstensen, E., Tomkins, S., & Millar, K. (2006). Ethical matrix manual. The Hague: LEI.Google Scholar
  7. Meyer, G., Gamborg, C., & Sandøe, P. (2005a). A study of ethical and societal issues. Copenhagen: Danish Centre for Bioethics and Risk Assessment.Google Scholar
  8. Meyer, G., Gamborg, C., & Sandøe, P. (2005b). Ethical deliberation: Principles. Copenhagen: Danish Centre for Bioethics and Risk Assessment.Google Scholar
  9. Millar, K., & Mepham, B. (2001). Bioethical analysis of biotechnologies: Lessons from automatic milking systems (AMS) and bovine somatotrophin (bST). In C. M. Wathes, A. R. Frost, F. Gordon, & J. D. Wood (Eds.), Occasional publication number 28 (pp. 29–36). Edinburgh: British Society of Animal Science.Google Scholar
  10. Slovic, P. (2000). The perception of risk. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  11. Star, L., Ellen, E. D., Uitdehaag, K., & Brom, F. W. A. (2008). A plea to implement robustness into a breeding goal: Poultry as an example. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, 21, 109–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Wynne, B. (1996). May the sheep safely graze? In S. M. Lash, M. B. Szerszynski, & B. Wynne (Eds.), Risk, environment and modernity (pp. 44–83). London: Sage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karsten Klint Jensen
    • 1
  • Ellen-Marie Forsberg
    • 2
  • Christian Gamborg
    • 1
  • Kate Millar
    • 3
  • Peter Sandøe
    • 1
  1. 1.Danish Centre for Bioethics and Risk Assessment, Faculty of Life SciencesUniversity of CopenhagenFrederiksberg CDenmark
  2. 2.Work Research InstituteOsloNorway
  3. 3.Centre for Applied Bioethics, School of BiosciencesUniversity of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington CampusSutton BoningtonUK

Personalised recommendations