Call for papers: Phenomenological Bioethics and First-Person Experience

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Abstracts: primary literature in phenomenology, main themes in phenomenology of bioethics, & of first-person experience, case studies, philosophical care work.

Call for papers: Phenomenological Bioethics and First-Person Experience

Phenomenology is a philosophical movement initiated by Edmund Husserl in the 20th century and is characterized by its examination of phenomena as perceived by an observer devoid of presuppositions (Spiegelberg, 1960; Moran, 1999). In contrast, bioethics is a discipline that contemplates the ethical dimensions of life within medical, psychological, and broad ecological frameworks. Coined by Fritz Jahr in 1926 and later employed by Potter in “Bioethics: Bridge to the Future” (1970), the term bioethics drew inspiration from Kantian categorical imperative, aiming to extend care to all living beings, recognizing their right to be treated as ends in themselves rather than means to an end—acknowledging the sanctity of life as unique individual agents. Potter, guided by the goal of enhancing the quality of life for “living systems,” not exclusively humans (Potter, V. R., 1975, 2299), crafted bioethics as an interdisciplinary fusion of life sciences, philosophical contemplation, and moral decision-making.

The classic phenomenology and this brand of bioethics appear not to have intersected, evolving independently until recent efforts in medical fields and clinical practice, for example in the 70s Zaner (1970) and Pellegrino (1979a, 1979b) and develop in the 80s and 90s with Toombs (1987, 1992), Baron (1981), Leder (1988) and more recently, among others, with Svenaeus (2001), Carel (2008, 2012, 2011, 2016) and many more. Nevertheless, phenomenological bioethics emerged a few years after the inception of phenomenology (around 1900) and a few decades before the advent of bioethics (around 1970), seamlessly combining elements of both disciplines into an autonomous philosophical branch. Its origins date back to 1912 with Jaspers’ “Phenomenological Approach in Psychopathology” and 1916 with Scheler’s “The Meaning of Suffering.” This approach continued with Conrad-Martius’ investigations into nature’s life (1921, 1923), gained momentum in 1959 with Fanon’s “Medicine and Colonialism” and Foucault’s “The Birth of the Clinic” in 1963, reaching full expression in 1979 with Jonas’ “Phenomenon of Life” and Engelhardt’s “The Foundation of Bioethics” in 1986.

In the light of these forms of phenomenological bioethics, meant as a phenomenology of bioethics and a phenomenological bioethics per se, the invitation is for papers that fall in one of these topics to feature:

  • Contributions concerning primary literature in phenomenology that elucidate the bioethical themes expounded by phenomenologists such as Husserl, Scheler, Stein, Conrad-Martius, Fanon, Heidegger etc.
  • Contributions concerning main themes in phenomenology of bioethics such as the clinical encounter, embodiment, enactivism, pain, feminist bioethics etc.
  • Contributions of first-person experience, case studies, and philosophical care work. For this section the ask is for contributors to describe their personal story in relation to bioethical problems and/or base their paper on first person experience. In case first person experience is missing we require contributors to co-author papers with individuals involved in the first-person experience.

Please send abstracts no longer than 1000 words and minimum 400 words to [email protected] by June 1st