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BIOUNCERTAINTY - ERC Starting Grant no. 805498

Niepewność w argumentacji bioetycznej: badania genetyczne, medycyna prewencyjna, decyzje prokreacyjne (BIOUNCERTAINTY)

Niepewność w argumentacji bioetycznej: badania genetyczne, medycyna prewencyjna, decyzje prokreacyjne (BIOUNCERTAINTY)

Projekt badawczy finansowany przez Europejską Radę ds. Badań Naukowych (European Research Council – ERC) w ramach konkursu Starting Grant. 

nr umowy: 805498

czas realizacji: 2019-2024

kierownik projektu: Tomasz Żuradzki

 

Projekt

Niepewność w bioetyce: badania genetyczne, medycyna prewencyjna, decyzje prokreacyjne

Abstrakt

Postęp w badaniach oraz technologiach biomedycznych połączony jest często z niepewnością dotyczącą tego, w jaki sposób należy oceniać jego rezultaty. Niekiedy kontrowersje wywołuje też sama dopuszczalność prowadzenia danego typu badań lub legalizacji danego typu techniki. Hipoteza mojego projektu, który będę realizował dzięki finansowaniu z Europejskiej Rady ds. Badań Naukowych (ERC) w ramach konkursu Starting Grant, głosi, że niektóre badania naukowe w naukach biomedycznych wywołują specyficzne emocje i wyzwalają rozmaite sposoby przetwarzania informacji, wpływające na oceny normatywne i związane z nimi decyzje. Podstawowe pytanie badawcze, na które będę chciał odpowiedzieć jest takie: w jaki sposób heurystyki i błędy poznawcze udokumentowane przez psychologów wpływają na formułowanie ocen normatywnych w kontekście badań i technologii biomedycznych, a także jak rozgraniczyć od siebie zniekształcone i niezniekształcone sądy wartościujące w tego typu kontekstach. Hipotezą projektu jest to, że wiele istniejących zasad, regulacji i praktyk bioetycznych wynika z automatycznych i nieuzasadnionych reakcji psychologicznych, a nie z systemowych rozważań na temat możliwych uzasadnień alternatywnych sposobów decydowania w warunkach różnych, złożonych typów niepewności. Celem projektu jest więc reinterpretacja powszechnych osądów etycznych na temat najnowszych postępów w biomedycynie. Zamiast rozumieć te osądy jako przedłużenie tradycyjnych stanowisk normatywnych w etyce, projekt proponuje bardziej adekwatną interpretację, uwzględniającą wykorzystanie rozmaitych podejść normatywnych do podejmowania decyzji w warunkach fundamentalnej niepewności, czyli np. w sytuacjach niepewności normatywnej, niezdeterminowania czy wartościowania samego istnienia ludzkiego. Wyniki projektu mogą mieć praktyczne zastosowania np. w przypadku regulacji badań naukowych z zakresu biomedycyny.

Rezultaty

Publikacje: opublikowane

L. Wroński (2020), Objective consequentialism and the plurality of chances, Synthese

I claim that objective consequentialism (OC) faces a problem stemming from the existence in some situations of a plurality of chances relevant to the outcomes of an agent’s acts. I suggest that this phenomenon bears structural resemblance to the well-known Reference Class problem. I outline a few ways in which one could attempt to deal with the issue, suggesting that it is the higher-level chance that should be employed by OC.

 

M. Maziarz, M. Zach (2020), Agent-based modeling for SARS-CoV-2 epidemic prediction and intervention assessment. A methodological appraisalJournal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice

Our purpose is to assess epidemiological agent‐based models—or ABMs—of the SARS‐CoV‐2 pandemic methodologically. The rapid spread of the outbreak requires fast‐paced decision‐making regarding mitigation measures. However, the evidence for the efficacy of non‐pharmaceutical interventions such as imposed social distancing and school or workplace closures is scarce: few observational studies use quasi‐experimental research designs, and conducting randomized controlled trials seems infeasible. Additionally, evidence from the previous coronavirus outbreaks of SARS and MERS lacks external validity, given the significant differences in contagiousness of those pathogens relative to SARS‐CoV‐2. To address the pressing policy questions that have emerged as a result of COVID‐19, epidemiologists have produced numerous models that range from simple compartmental models to highly advanced agent‐based models. These models have been criticized for involving simplifications and lacking empirical support for their assumptions.

 

J.K. Malinowska, T. Żuradzki (2020), Non-Epistemological Values in Collaborative Research in Neuroscience: The Case of Alleged Differences between Human Populations, AJOB Neuroscience 11 (3): 203-206

The goals and tasks of neuroethics formulated by Farahany and Ramos (2020) link epistemological and methodological issues with ethical and social values. The authors refer simultaneously to the social significance and scientific reliability of the BRAIN Initiative. They openly argue that neuroethics should not only examine neuroscientific research in terms of “a rigorous, reproducible, and representative neuroscience research process” as well as “explore the unique nature of the study of the human brain through accurate and representative models of its function and dysfunction”, but also its responsibilities or social consequences. In our commentary, we would like to concentrate on problem selection, which is shortly noticed by Farahany and Ramos, and by BRAIN Initiative’s Neuroethics Report itself. The document raises an important issue related to problem selection, which is strengthening or perpetuating existing prejudices and biases by choosing a research subject: “scientists are prompted to consider how the questions they choose to study in the laboratory might amplify existing biases.” This leads to several further problems: what constitutes bias?; how biases may be embedded in the selection of research programs?; is it possible to conduct completely unbiased research?; who should be a gatekeeper in the case of research that may amplify biases? We try to notice possible answers to these questions in the context of the research on differences (e.g., cognitive, medical, behavioral) between human populations.


T. Żuradzki (2020), The Fifth Face of Fair Subject Selection: Population Grouping, American Journal of Bioethics 20 (2): 41-43

The article by MacKay and Saylor (2020) claims that the principle of fair subject selection yields conflicting imperatives (e.g. in the case of pregnant women) and should be understood as “a bundle of four distinct sub-principles” (i.e. fair inclusion, burden sharing, opportunity, distribution of third-party risks), each having conflicting normative recommendations. In my commentary article, written from the philosophical perspective, I notice a number of interrelated problems which I believe have not been discussed thoroughly in the target article: (1) the precise way in which health care priority setting should influence the content of health research priority setting and fair inclusion principles; (2) the distinction between group and individual benefits and burdens from clinical research; (3) the reference class problem in medical research.

 

M. Maziarz, R. Mróz (2020). Response to Henschen: Causal pluralism in economics "Journal of Economic Methodology" 27 (2): 164-178

In his recent paper in the Journal of Economic Methodology, Tobias Henschen puts forth a manipulationist definition of macroeconomic causality that strives for adequacy. As the notion of ‘adequacy’ remains underdeveloped in that paper, in this study we offer a discussion of what it means for a definition of causality to be adequate to macroeconomics. One of the meanings of adequacy is that the definition of causality describes the types of relations for which macroeconomic causal models stand for. On this understanding of adequacy, we take issue with Henschen’s claim. We argue that his manipulationist definition is only applicable to a sample of causal models used by macroeconomists. There are other sets of macroeconomic causal models to which probabilistic and mechanistic definitions seem more adequate. We show relevant examples to support this claim and conclude that a moderate causal pluralism is an adequate stance with respect to macroeconomic causal models.
 

N. Paulo & T. Pölzler (2020), X-Phi and Impartiality Thought Experiments: Investigating the Veil of Ignorance. Diametros, 17(64), 72-89

This paper discusses “impartiality thought experiments”, i.e., thought experiments that attempt to generate intuitions which are unaffected by personal characteristics such as age, gender or race. We focus on the most prominent impartiality thought experiment, the Veil of Ignorance (VOI), and show that both in its original Rawlsian version and in a more generic version, empirical investigations can be normatively relevant in two ways: First, on the assumption that the VOI is effective and robust, if subjects dominantly favor a certain normative judgment behind the VOI this provides evidence in favor of that judgment; if, on the other hand, they do not dominantly favor a judgment this reduces our justification for it. Second, empirical investigations can also contribute to assessing the effectiveness and robustness of the VOI in the first place, thereby supporting or undermining its applications across the board.

 

S. McFarlane & H. Cipolletti Perez (2020), Some Challenges for Research on Emotion and Moral Judgment: The Moral Foreign-Language Effect as a Case Study. Diametros, 17(64), 56-71

In this article, we discuss a number of challenges with the empirical study of emotion and its relation to moral judgment. We examine a case study involving the moral foreign-language effect, according to which people show an increased utilitarian response tendency in moral dilemmas when using their non-native language. One important proposed explanation for this effect is that using one’s non-native language reduces emotional arousal, and that reduced emotion is responsible for this tendency. We offer reasons to think that there is insufficient evidence for accepting this explanation at present. We argue that there are three themes that constrain our current ability to draw firm empirical conclusions: 1) the frequent use of proxies or partial measures for emotions, 2) the lack of a predictive and generalizable theory of emotion and specific emotion-types, and 3) the obscurity of a baseline level of neutrality with respect to participant emotion. These lessons apply not only to research on the moral foreign-language effect, but to empirical research in moral psychology more generally. 

 

L. S. Bush & D. Moss (2020), Misunderstanding Metaethics: Difficulties Measuring Folk Objectivism and Relativism. Diametros, 17(64), 6-21

In this article, we discuss a number of challenges with the empirical study of emotion and its relation to moral judgment. We examine a case study involving the moral foreign-language effect, according to which people show an increased utilitarian response tendency in moral dilemmas when using their non-native language. One important proposed explanation for this effect is that using one’s non-native language reduces emotional arousal, and that reduced emotion is responsible for this tendency. We offer reasons to think that there is insufficient evidence for accepting this explanation at present. We argue that there are three themes that constrain our current ability to draw firm empirical conclusions: 1) the frequent use of proxies or partial measures for emotions, 2) the lack of a predictive and generalizable theory of emotion and specific emotion-types, and 3) the obscurity of a baseline level of neutrality with respect to participant emotion. These lessons apply not only to research on the moral foreign-language effect, but to empirical research in moral psychology more generally.

 

T. Żuradzki, P.G. Nowak (2019), Deep Uncertainties in the Criteria for Physician Aid-in-Dying for Psychiatric Patients, American Journal of Bioethics 10(19):54-56

In their insightful article, Brent Kious and Margaret Battin (2019) correctly identify an inconsistency between
an involuntary psychiatric commitment for suicide prevention and physician aid in dying (PAD). They declare
that it may be possible to resolve the problem by articulating “objective standards for evaluating the severity of
others’ suffering,” but ultimately they admit that this task is beyond the scope of their article since the solution
depends on “a deep and difficult” question about comparing the worseness of two possible scenarios: letting
someone die (who could have been helped) with not letting someone die (whose suffering could only be alleviated by death). In our commentary, we argue that creating such standards is more difficult than the  authors assume because of the many types of deep uncertainties we have to deal with: (1) diagnostic, (2) motivational, and (3) existential. 

Publikacje: zaakceptowane do druku

L. Elkin (forthcoming), Regret averse opinion aggregation, Ergo

P. Nowak (forthcoming), Moral and Biological Concept of Death: Which One is Too Nebulous? Journal of Medicine and Philosophy

K. Wiśniowska (forthcoming), Etyczne aspekty „obrzezania” [Ethical aspects of medically unnecessary child genital cutting], Analiza i Egzystencja, no. 50 (2020)

Publikacje: w recenzji

L. Elkin (in review), Expert Disagreement and the Precautionary Principle

Peterson (2007) argues that the so-called Precautionary Principle should guide decision makers in forming beliefs, but not necessarily determine which course of action is appropriate. On this view of the Precautionary Principle, Peterson advances an underlying epistemic principle relating to expert disagreement he calls the ecumenical principle: a decision maker should view all expert opinions as legitimate. He then proposes a set of normative criteria defining the principle, but Peterson explicitly rejects any probabilistic interpretation, as he claims that probabilities may provide decision makers with information that is more precise than warranted. In this paper, I show that Peterson’s reasoning is short-sighted, as the ecumenical principle is, in fact, consistent with a probabilistic rule when broadening the conception of probability to that of imprecise probability. In turn, I show that imprecise probabilities accommodate expert disagreement and better represent the ecumenical principle than Peterson’s own account, using a public health crisis as a motivating case.

Publikacje: w przygotowaniu

T. Żuradzki, Regulating scientific research under deep uncertainty: the case of ontologically ambiguous entities

Human embryos in the early stages of development are ontologically ambiguous entities. The same concerns e.g. induced pluripotent stem cells reprogrammed from human somatic cells, embryo-like products of parthenogenesis, human-nonhuman chimeras, human organoids. This ontological ambiguity (an example of deep uncertainty) which has been discussed extensively by philosophers and bioethicists in recent years is an underlying reason for the uncertainty about the moral and legal status of these beings. In my presentation – a part of a larger project aimed at analyzing decision theory as a model for reasoning in ethics – I want to discuss whether this uncertainty about status cast doubt on the arguments claiming strong or even full protection of these beings. Or is it the other way around: does it give a reason for acting in a cautious way and treating these entities as if they had very high status (a higher-order precautionary principle). In recent years there have been a number of attempts to understand and to find the relevant criteria for making decisions under deep uncertainty, but this topic is still unexplored in the case of ontologically ambiguous entities. Some scholars have proposed the decision theoretic approach modeled on the cases of factual risk according to which we ought (although the very nature of this ought may be contested) to represent any higher-order uncertainties in terms of those first-order (e.g. that we ought to evaluate the subjective probabilities of different doctrines about ontologically ambiguous entities and combine them with the disvalues attached by these doctrines to the creation/destruction of these entities and/or social benefits of this kind of research). I will show that this approach faces serious objections (e.g. the problem of inter-theoretical comparisons of values) and the decision theoretic approach should be understood in this case as a metaphor (not a model).

 

T. Żuradzki, Reporting incidental findings under uncertainty

When conducting biomedical research (e.g. genomic), researchers may obtain information that is beyond the aims of the study but may be relevant to the participants. An emerging consensus says that reporting incidental findings to participants should be based on the potential for medical benefit. Schaefer & Savulescu (2018) have recently criticized this “best-medical-interests” standard as being too narrow. They have argued that research subjects have a right to know about any comprehensible piece of information about them which is generated by the research which they are participating in, even if it is of no direct medical benefit to them. In my paper I will criticize their three main arguments based on the notions of autonomy, interests and privacy. I will show that they use a very narrow concept of autonomy as the ability to make informed decisions; they do not take into account the psychology of genetic risk perception; and they rely on an overly individualistic approach to research ethics.

 

T. Żuradzki The conceptualization of vaccination refusals: between science denial and violation of rational choice

Vaccination programmes have been acknowledged as the greatest public health achievement of the last decades. Therefore, it may be surprising that growing number of people are opting not to vaccinate their children (Omer 2012).[1] On the one hand, vaccination refusals seem to be clear examples of science denial that may result, among others reasons, from exposure to scientific fraud (an infamous report linking the measles vaccine to autism, later retracted). On the other hand, some countries (e.g. the US and Australia) offer non-medical exemptions from mandatory vaccination. It is surprising, because these kinds of exceptions are usually limited to value disagreements, but are not accepted in cases of science denial (e.g. objections to teaching evolution in schools). Moreover, reputable journals in medicine, bioethics or social science publish papers defending parental “conscientious objection” to mandatory vaccination programmes (Salmon 2006; Navin, Largent 2017). In my presentation I show there are no good reasons to assume that anyone should be allowed to refuse “to vaccinate their dependants on conscientious grounds” (Clarke et al. 2017).

First, I want to analyze a suitable ethical framework for mandatory vaccination of children or specific populations (e.g. health care personnel): public health ethics (that implies a consequentialist approach) versus traditional bioethics (that concentrates on autonomous consent and individual risk-benefit ratio).

Second, I want to discuss vaccination refusals in the context of philosophical (or legal) theories of responsibility of those who opt out for harms to others, including: i) collective action problem (e.g. few persons being unvaccinated, where herd immunity is achieved, are very unlikely to cause harm); ii) responsibility for imposing mere risks of harm to others (Jamrozik et al. 2016).

Third, I want to analyze explanations of vaccination refusal (see systematic reviews: Mills et al. 2005; Wang et al. 2014). i) Free-riding without rejecting scientific consensus. Some individuals may be pro vaccination in general, but prefer to keep children unvaccinated as long as enough others are vaccinated and risks have largely been eliminated. I will show that even if someone agrees that free-riding is not always objectionable (Dare 1998), it would be hard to establish the content of beliefs about vaccination refusal (cf. Jamrozik 2017). ii) Religious reasons. Despite of the fact that no major organized religion prohibits vaccination (Grabenstein 2013), some Catholics have questioned some vaccines as “morally illicit” (Carson, Flood 2017), because they were developed in cell cultures derived from tissue originally taken from an aborted fetus (WI-38; MRC-5). The Catholic teaching permits parents to use a vaccine despite its “illicit origin” (CDF 2008), although every act of vaccination is “a form of very remote mediate material cooperation” (PAL 2006) with the evil. Both documents underline that parents “should take recourse… to the use of conscientious objection with regard to the use of vaccines produced by means of cell lines of aborted human fetal origin” (PAL 2006). But in this context “conscientious objection” does not mean vaccination refusal, but only a symbolic act (e.g. signing a petition). iii) A mistrust concerning the necessity, safety, and efficacy of vaccines. Some people may disagree about the authority of science, and same individuals reject only the orthodox account of the risks and benefits of immunization. But these views are clearly related to the different biases that make pro-vaccination beliefs more counter-intuitive, and anti-vaccination beliefs – more intuitive, especially once vaccinations have made some diseases rare (Miton, Mercier 2015). For example: omission bias (Wroe at al. 2005); in-group favoritism (Kahan et al. 2010); identified victim effect (Hare 2012).

Wydarzenia

Seminaria badawcze INCET

Seminaria badawcze INCET

Cotygodniowe seminaria badawcze Interdyscyplinarnego Centrum Etyki UJ (INCET) organizowane w ramach projektu BIOUNCERTAINTY odbywają się (zazwyczaj) w czwartki w godz. 17.30-19.00 w Instytucie Filozofii UJ, ul. Grodzka 52, sala im. Romana Ingardena (25). Komunikaty o kolejnych seminariach dostępne są w dziale Aktualności.

Zdjęcia z seminariów można obejrzeć w galerii zdjęć INCET.

Konferencje

Konferencje

Międzynarodowa konferencja 'Evidence in Law and Ethics' (ELE2019), 4-5 kwietnia 2019

Keynote speakers:

Christian Dahlman (Lund)

Martin Smith (Edinburgh)

Topics:

Epistemic risk and the role of non-epistemic values in ethical and legal evidential reasoning.
Reasonable doubt, higher-order evidence, statistical evidence, evidentiary thresholds in law and ethics.
Models of evidential reasoning, standards of proof, and evidence-based heuristics in law and ethics.
The concept of testimony in ethical vs legal contexts.
Epistemology of legal (esp. court) disagreement.
The ethics of belief of laymen, experts, lawyers and the judicial system.

Zespół

Kierownik

dr hab. Tomasz Żuradzki, prof. UJ

Adiunkt (postdok)

Lee Elkin, PhD

Asystent (doktorant)

Mariusz Maziarz

Karolina Wiśniowska

Piotr Bystranowski (part-time)

Marta Maj (part-time)

Referent techniczny (student)

Bartosz Biskup

Katarzyna Żebrowska

Poprzedni pracownicy

dr Piotr Nowak

Adrianna Beczek

Goście

Jeroen Hopster (Graz)

Konrad Rudnicki (Antwerpia)

Teresa Baron (Southampton)

Joanna Smolenski (Nowy Jork)

Zespół doradczy

Małgorzata Kossowska

Włodek Rabinowicz

Jan Sprenger