«ABSOLUTELY RIGHT AND RELATIVELY GOOD: Consequentialists See Bioethical Disagreement in a Relativist Light»

Hugo Viciana, David Rodríguez-Arias (FiloLab) and Ivar Hannikainen (FiloLab) have recently published the article Absolutely Right and Relatively Good: in the magazine AJOB Empirical Bioethics.CONSEQUENTIALISTS SEE BIOETHICAL DISAGREEMENT IN A RELATIVIST LIGHT(DOI: 10.1080/ 23294515.2021. 23294515.2021). Here is the abstract, which addresses disagreements in bioethics: The full article and study materials can be accessed below:

“Bioethical disagreements are very common. We see this daily in debates on euthanasia, abortion, surrogacy or vaccine reluctance, where seemingly reasonable people -who may even enjoy a certain reputation and credibility- disagree with each other. How can we understand those disagreements?

When chemistry experts disagree on the composition of a substance, or when two mathematicians obtain different results for an equation, we generally assume that at least one of them must be wrong. Do we feel the same way about disagreements on ethics? Are there ethical truths that can be used to demonstrate that a belief about the morality or immorality of a practice is right or wrong? On what does it depend whether we have a relativist or an objectivist view of morality?

Hugo Viciana, Ivar Hannikainen and David Rodríguez-Arias have just published a study that experimentally delves into these meta-ethical questions based on social attitudes towards controversial issues in bioethics and applied ethics: medically assisted suicide, euthanasia, surrogacy, the right of parents not to vaccinate their children, gene editing in humans, the regulation of a market for organs for transplantation, the creation of genetically modified organisms for food, enhancement therapies, voluntary abortion, the participation of incapable subjects in biomedical research, the confiscation of organs for transplantation, sexual assistance for people with disabilities, the use of animals for traditional festivities and animal experimentation. These cases are used to investigate the link between beliefs people have about the nature of moral disagreements (their metaethics) and their own attitudes (whether and how strongly they morally approve or disapprove of certain practices and policies) as well as normative schemes (if they adopt a consequantialist/conditional or deontologial/categorical normative approach). This study shows that consequentialist normative stances are associated with weaker beliefs in an objective moral truth”.

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Click here to access the surveys and materials.

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