Responsible research and innovation: a manifesto for empirical ethics?

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Publication details

JournalClinical Ethics
DateE-pub ahead of print - 19 Jan 2015
DatePublished (current) - 2015
Issue number1-2
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)5-12
Early online date19/01/15
Original languageEnglish


In 2013 the Nuffield Council on Bioethics launched their report Novel
Neurotechnologies: Intervening in the Brain. The report, which adopts the
European Commission’s notion of Responsible Research and Innovation
(RRI), puts forward a set of priorities to guide ethical research into and
development of new therapeutic neurotechnologies. In this paper, we
critically engage with these priorities. We argue that the Nuffield Council’s
priorities, and the RRI initiative as a whole, are laudable and should guide
research and innovation in all areas of healthcare. However, we argue that
operationalising RRI requires an in-depth understanding of the research
and clinical contexts. Providing such an understanding is an important task
for empirical ethics. Drawing on examples sociology, science and
technology studies, and related disciplines, we propose four avenues of
social science research which can provide such an understanding. We
suggest that these avenues can provide a manifesto for empirical ethics.

    Research areas

  • social control of science and technology, Biomedical Research, clinical ethics

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