Advertisement

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 81–90 | Cite as

Towards an empirical ethics in care: relations with technologies in health care

  • Jeannette PolsEmail author
Scientific Contribution

Abstract

This paper describes the approach of empirical ethics, a form of ethics that integrates non-positivist ethnographic empirical research and philosophy. Empirical ethics as it is discussed here builds on the ‘empirical turn’ in epistemology. It radicalizes the relational approach that care ethics introduced to think about care between people by drawing in relations between people and technologies as things people relate to. Empirical ethics studies care practices by analysing their intra-normativity, or the ways of living together the actors within these practices strive for or bring about as good practices. Different from care ethics, what care is and if it is good is not defined beforehand. A care practice may be contested by comparing it to alternative practices with different notions of good care. By contrasting practices as different ways of living together that are normatively oriented, suggestions for the best possible care may be argued for. Whether these suggestions will actually be put to practice is, however, again a relational question; new actors need to re-localize suggestions, to make them work in new practices and fit them in with local intra-normativities with their particular routines, material infrastructures, know-how and strivings.

Keywords

Empirical ethics Care ethics Intra-normativity Ethnography Telecare 

Notes

Acknowledgments

A word of thanks to the ‘Philosophy of Care’ group for their comments and suggestions, and to the two anonymous reviewers for the journal for their constructive feedback. The work on empirical ethics in care is a collective project, for which I thank Dick Willems, Ingunn Moser, Hilde Thygesen, Annemarie Mol, Daniël Lopez, Juan Carlos Aceros, Miquel Domenech, Christine Ceci and Mary Ellen Purkis.

References

  1. Beauchamp, T.L., and J.F. Childress. 2002. Principles of biomedical ethics. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Ceci, C., K. Björnsdóttir, and M.E. Purkis (eds.). 2011. Perspectives on care at home for older people. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Folker, M.P., M.N. Svendsen, and L. Koch. 2009. Lifeworlds of the pig: Towards a carthography of porcine/human entanglements. In Investigating human/animal relations in science, Culture and Work, ed. T. Holmberg, 142–153. Uppsala: Centrum för Genusvetenskap, Uppsala Univaersitet.Google Scholar
  4. Grit, Kor. 2004. Corporate citizenship: How to strengthen the social responsibility of managers? Journal Business Ethics 53(1&2): 97–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Haraway, D. 1991. Situated knowledges: The science question in feminism and the privilege of partial perspective. In Simians, cyborgs and women. The reinvention of nature, ed. D. Haraway. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Harbers, H. 2005. Epilogue: Political materials–material politics. In Inside the politics of technology. Agency and normativity in the co-production of technology and society, ed. H. Harbers, 257–272. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kohlen, Helen. 2009. Conflicts of care, hospital ethics committees in the USA and Germany. Frankfurt: Campus Verlag.Google Scholar
  8. Latour, B., and Woolgar, S. 1986. Laboratory life. The construction of scientific facts. Princeton Unviversity Press.Google Scholar
  9. Latour, B. 1987a. The pasteurization of French Society. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  10. Latour, B. 1987b. Science in action: How to follow scientists and engineers through society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Law, J. 1999. After ANT: Complexity, naming and topology. In Actor network theory and after, ed. J. Law, and J. Hassard, 1–14. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  12. Leget, C., C. Gastmans, M.A. Verkerk (red.). 2011. Care, compassion and recognition: An ethical discussion. Leuven: Peeters Publishers.Google Scholar
  13. López, D., and M. Domènech. 2009. Embodying autonomy in a home telecare service. The Sociological Review 56: 181–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Milligan, C. 2009. There’s no place like home: People, place and care in an ageing society. Aldershot: Ashgate Geographies Health Book Series.Google Scholar
  15. Mol, A. 2002. The body multiple. Ontology in medical practice. Durham: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mol, A. 2010. Care and its values. Good food in the nursing home. In Care in practice. On tinkering in clinics, homes and farms, ed. A. Mol, I. Moser, and J. Pols, 215–234. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag.Google Scholar
  17. Molewijk, B., A.M. Stiggelbout, W. Otten, H.M. Dupuis, and J. Kievit. 2004. Empirical data and moral theory. A ple a for integrated empirical ethics. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 7: 55–69.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Moser, I. 2010. Perhaps tears should not be counted but wiped away. On quality and improvement in dementia care. In Care in practice. On tinkering in clinics, homes and farms, ed. A. Mol, I. Moser, and J. Pols, 277–300. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag.Google Scholar
  19. Moser, I., and J. Law. 1999. Good passages, bad passages. In Actor network theory and after, ed. J. Law, and J. Hassard, 196–219. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  20. Noddings, N. 1984. Caring: A feminine approach to ethics and moral education. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  21. Pols, A.J. 2006. Washing the citizen: Washing, cleanliness and citizenship in mental health care. Culture, Medicine & Psychiatry 30(1): 77–104.Google Scholar
  22. Pols, J., 2008. Which empirical research, whose ethics? Articulating ideals in long-term mental health care. In Empirical Ethics in Psychiatry (eds) G. Widdershoven, T. Hope, L. Van der Scheer, & J. McMillan, 51–68. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Pols, J., Schermer, M., and Willems, D. 2010. Telezorgvisie essay over ontwikkelingen en beloften van telezorg in de nederlandse gezondheidszorg (Essay for policymakers on telecare, for NWO project care at a distance). Amsterdam: AMC.Google Scholar
  24. Pols, J., 2012. Care at a distance. On the closeness of technology. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Pols, J., 2013. The chronification of illness. An empirical ethics in care. www.oratiereeks.nl.
  26. Puig de la Bellacasa, M. 2011. Matters of care in technoscience: Assembling neglected things. Social Studies of Science 41(1): 85–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Schicktanz, S., M. Schweda, and B. Wynne. 2012. The ethics of ‘public understanding of ethics’—Why and how bioethics expertise should include public and patients’ voices. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 5(2): 129–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sevenhuijsen, S. (1998) Citizenship and the ethics of care feminist considerations on justice, morality and politics new York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Sevenhuijsen, S. 2000. Caring in the third way: The relation between obligation, responsibility and care in third way discourse. Critical Social Policy 20: 5–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Shapin, S., and Schaffer, S. 1985. Leviathan and the air-pump. Hobbes, Boyle and the experimental life. Princeton: Princetone University press.Google Scholar
  31. Tonkens, E.H., and J. Newman. 2010. Active citizenship: Responsibility, participation and choice. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Tronto, J. 1993. Moral boundaries: A political argument for an ethic of care. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  33. Verkerk, M.A. 2007. Care ethics as a feminist perspective on bioethics. In: New pathways for European Bioethics. Gastmans, C.E.A. (ed) Antwerpen/Oxford: Intersentia, 65–81.Google Scholar
  34. Walker, M.U. 2007. Moral understandings: A feminist study in ethics, 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Wallenburg, I., A. de Bont, M.J. Heineman, F. Scheele, and P. Meurs. 2013. Learning to doctor: Tinkering with visibility in residency training. Sociology of Health & Illness 35(4): 544–559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Willems, D., and J. Pols. 2010. Goodness! The empirical turn in health care ethics. Medische Antropologie, 22(1):161–170.Google Scholar
  37. Willems, D. 2010. Varieties of goodness in high-tech home care. In Care in practice. On tinkering in clinics, homes and farms, ed. A. Mol, I. Moser, and J. Pols, 257–276. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag.Google Scholar
  38. Winance, M. 2010. Care and disability. Practices of experimenting, tinkering with, and arranging people and technical aids. In Care in practice. On tinkering in clinics, homes and farms, ed. A. Mol, I. Moser, and J. Pols, 93–118. Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag.Google Scholar
  39. Wittgenstein, L. 1953. Philosophical investigations/Philosophische Untersuchungen. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Section of Medical Ethics, Department of General PracticeAcademic Medical CentreAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Department of Sociology AnthropologyUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations