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Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

ISSN Print: 1050-6934
ISSN Online: 1940-4379

Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

DOI: 10.1615/JLongTermEffMedImplants.v17.i1.70
pages 47-54

Linking Biomedical Engineering Ethics Case Study Approach and Policy

William Dibrell
Division of Human Studies, Alfred University, One Saxon Drive, Alfred, NY 14802
Elizabeth Ann Dobie
Division of Human Studies, Alfred University, One Saxon Drive, Alfred, NY 14802

ABSTRACT

In this paper we link bioengineering case study methods to the development of policy. The case study approach to ethics is an excellent way to show the complex nature of practical/moral reasoning. This approach can, however, lead to a kind of overwhelming complexity. The individual nature of each case makes it difficult to identify the most important information and difficult to see what moral considerations are most relevant. In order to make the overwhelming complexity less debilitating, we present a framework for moral decision making derived from suggestions made by W.D. Ross and Virginia Held. Ross articulates the multiple sources of morality and Held deepens the discussion by reminding us of the foundational importance of care and sympathy to our moral natures. We show how to use the notion of prima facie duty and discuss moral conflict. In doing this, we show how the framework, applied to cases, can be of assistance in helping us develop policies and codes of ethics with sufficient plasticity to be useful in the complex world of the bioengineer.