8th of December 2022 – Davide Serpico & Mark Fedyk – Threshold Problems in Bioethics: Perspectives from the Philosophy of Biology
We have the pleasure to invite you to another research seminar in the ‘BIOUNCERTAINTY’ research project. This week Davide Serpico & Mark Fedyk will give a talk: "Threshold Problems in Bioethics: Perspectives from the Philosophy of Biology". The seminar will take place on Thursday 8th of December at 5:30 p.m. in the room 25 on Grodzka Street and via MS Teams.
Can it be fruitful to resolve bioethical problems using conceptual resources from the philosophy of biology? In this talk, we engage with such a question by focusing on two case studies encountered by MF at the UCD Medical Center. Such cases raise bioethical questions that have the structure of typical threshold problems, namely, scenarios where: (a) qualitative changes emerge out from a seemingly continuous order/distribution; (b) a clear-cut distinction needs to be made between two alternatives for epistemic or practical reasons; but (c) it is epistemically uncertain where to put the threshold between them. In cases of this sort, bioethical decision-making typically makes conventional or pragmatic choices to draw the relevant boundaries. However, this strategy often leads to inconsistent and ad hoc assessments of the problem at stake. In order to achieve more principled solutions, we draw on insights from contemporary philosophy of biology, which provides ontological and conceptual frameworks to analyze threshold problems. We construe heuristics around the concepts of phenotypic plasticity, developmental canalization, and functional integration and suggest how such heuristics would direct decision and inference-making in bioethical threshold problems.
Link to MS Teams meeting