Research > Legal Ethics

Legal ethics deals with aspects of the right, the good, and the character on a societal level. In particular, this encompasses:

Legal ethics and life sciences

Work in this area inquires the normative-jurisprudential discourse on biomedical research in human life sciences and the applications in the clinical context and society. Issues include:

  • Medically-assisted reproductive technologies
  • Stem cell research
  • Human tissue engineering
  • Genetics

Foundations of legal ethics in healthcare

Healthcare professionals tend to perceive the law as a threat to and an obstacle in their daily work. Defensive strategies in medical practice are a common, systemic, answer to this perceived legal threat.

Research work in the area of foundations of legal ethics in healthcare deals with

  • the possibilities and limitations of healthcare law
  • the moral values that shape legislative and jurisprudential actions in healthcare

The objective is to develop a legalo-ethical critique that acknowledges the mutual necessity of justice and care in healthcare law.

Institutional ethics

Institutions -- i.e., complex frameworks of rules -- shape our individual, organizational, and societal lives.

For example, the risk for diabetes could be lowered on the institutional level by introducing public policies on the maximum available volume for sugar-containing soft drinks. The alternatives on the individual level would be educational programs and appeals to the individual person's choice for a healthier lifestyle. Far more often than by explicit institutions, our decisions are influenced by more subtle institutional mechanisms ("nudges", R. Thaler & C. Sunstein).

From a legalo-ethical perspective, the relation between an individual's morality and the explicit or implicit institutions are of special interest:

  • Is it the individual person who represents the primary subject of morality?
  • Or is it the institution?

Because ethics traditionally underestimates the importance of institutions, it is a core objective of this research area to inform ethics with insights from jurisprudence and economics.