Download the full December 2019 EACME Newsletter
Editorial G. Birchley
News from the EACME Bureau R. Horn
Book review J. Martin
Deadline of next EACME Newsletter
It currently feels as though winter has come with a vengeance in the UK, and what better way to spend those long winter evenings pondering some of the enduring puzzles in medical ethics. One recurring ethical puzzle is the way medical ethicists identify value – because value identification is said by some to be a signal part of the expertise of bioethicists. There is not too much debate about what a fact is – in the philosophy of language, a fact is defined as descriptive information expressing verifiable truth claims about the world. Values are a bit more tricky. Looking to the philosophy of language again, one way we might define value is as expressions of relative or absolute worth and importance. But defining value doesn’t get us far for at least two reasons. Firstly, value comes in different forms in different professional and disciplinary contexts, and it is not clear either how we, as medical ethicists, disentangle these forms of value. Secondly, a much deeper debate, particularly pertinent to medical ethicists working in empirical bioethics, is whether, despite identification in the philosophy of language, value itself is an ontologically distinct category – in other words, do we recognise the moral goodness or badness in our lives a distinctive way, or is it subsumed in other types of experience? To some extent the first question might reflect on the second. I am pleased to say that this issue of the EACME newsletter contains a report by Jasper Ubels and Paul Mitchell on a week-long conference in September examining how we should define value in medical interventions, and this should be a good starting point for those pondering these questions. You may also want to think on these issues as you peruse our other reports, including Renzo Pegoraro’s report on the 2018 European Summer School on Clinical Ethics Support Services, Lucy Frith’s report on a workshop considering the role that ethics might play in improvement science, a reflective report by Oxford University student’s Pete Young and Lovro Savić on the EACME 2019 conference, Dario Scaramuzzi’s discussion of a new EU project aimed at developing research ethics capacity in Liberia and West Africa. Besides this you will find a review by Jean Martin of a book examining, from a utilitarian perspective, the growth of French bioethics as well as an article considering ethics in art and culture by Ellen de Wachter. Good pondering for winter evenings, I am sure you will agree!
Dr Giles Birchley
Centre for Ethics in Medicine, University of Bristol, U.K.
Download the full August 2019 EACME Newsletter