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Title: Empirical Ethics
Subtitle: The Case of Dignity in End-of-Life Decisions
Author(s): LEGET, Carlo , BORRY, Pascal
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 17    Issue: 2   Date: 2010   
Pages: 231-252
DOI: 10.2143/EP.17.2.2049265

Abstract :
The actual rise of empirical contributions in bioethics questions – at a fundamental level – the place bioethics will reserve for empirical approaches in its field. This article aims to discuss the relationship between empirical research and normative evaluations and to apply this to the use of the concept of dignity in end-of-life research. It describes five possible ways in which empirical research can be related to normative ethics: prescriptive applied ethics, theorist ethics, critical applied ethics, particularist ethics and integrated empirical ethics. In this article, we elaborate on the critical applied ethics perspective and present it as a five stage process comprising a) the determination of the problem, b) the description of the problem, c) the study of effects and alternatives, d) normative weighing and e) the evaluation of the effects of a decision. At each stage, we explore the perspective from both the empirical and the normative poles and apply it to the case of dignity in end-of-life decisions.

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