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Developing the ethical Delphi. (Special Issue: Ethical tools.)

By K. Millar, E. Thorstensen, S. Tomkins, B. Mepham, M. Kaiser

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A number of EU institutions and government committees across Europe have expressed interest in developing methods and decision-support tools to facilitate consideration of the ethical dimensions of biotechnology assessment. As part of the work conducted in the EC supported project on ethical tools (Ethical Bio-TA Tools), a number of ethical frameworks with the potential to support the work of public policy decision-makers has been characterized and evaluated. One of these potential tools is the Delphi method. The Delphi method was originally developed to assess variables that are intangible and/or shrouded in uncertainty by drawing on the knowledge and abilities of a diverse group of experts through a form of anonymous and iterative consultation. The method has hitherto been used by a diversity of practitioners to explore issues such as technology assessment, environmental planning, and public health measures. From the original (classical) Delphi, a family of Delphi-related processes has emerged. As a result of the evaluation of the various Delphi processes, it is proposed that the classical method can be further developed and applied as a form of ethical framework to assist policy-makers. Through a series of exercises and trials, an Ethical Delphi has been developed as a potential approach for characterizing ethical issues raised by the use of novel biotechnologies. Advantages and disadvantages of the method are discussed. Further work is needed to develop the procedural aspects of the Ethical Delphi method and to test its use in different cultural contexts. However, utilizing an ethical framework of this type combines the advantages of a methodical approach to capture ethical aspects with the democratic virtues of transparency and openness to criticism. Ethical frameworks such as the Ethical Delphi should contribute to better understanding of and decision-making on issues that involve decisive ethical dimensions.

Date 2007
Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 20
Issue 1
Pages 53-63
ISBN/ISSN 1187-7863
DOI 10.1007/s10806-006-9022-9
Language English
Author Address Centre for Applied Bioethics, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE12 5RD, UK.
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Accountability
  2. Animal roles
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Aquacultural and fisheries
  5. Biotechnology
  6. British Isles
  7. Choice
  8. Commonwealth of Nations
  9. Contamination
  10. Decision making
  11. Developed countries
  12. Ethics
  13. Europe
  14. Fish
  15. Genetically engineered animals
  16. Genetically modified animals
  17. Genetically modified organisms
  18. Genetic engineering
  19. Government
  20. Great Britain
  21. Norway
  22. OECD countries
  23. Public health
  24. Scandinavia
  25. Social psychology and social anthropology
  26. Techniques
  27. transgenics
  28. United Kingdom