Contact

Head of Division

Prof. Dr. Mark Schweda

+49 (0)441 798-5824

Postal Address

Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg
Faculty VI Medicine and Health Services
Department of Health Services Research
Medical Ethics Division
Ammerländer Heerstr. 114-118
26129 Oldenburg

Visting Address

Campus Haarentor, Building V04
Ammerländer Heerstraße 140
26129 Oldenburg

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Doctoral Projects

Privacy and the Good Life - an Empirically Informed Medical Ethics Analysis of Co-Intelligent Assistance Systems in Dementia Care (Eike Buhr)

In connection with digitization, demographic change, eroding traditional family care structures, and an acute shortage of personnel in the area of professional care, there is a threat of care shortages in the care of people with dementia. Against this background, technical assistance and care systems are also being employed there. Such technologies are discussed ethically under the aspect of privacy. This discourse, however, seems to fall silent as soon as it comes to the technical-assisted care of people with dementia. This gives the impression that privacy has no meaning for people with dementia. This not only contradicts moral intuitions. Studies in nursing science suggest that people with dementia do have a sense of privacy and that this is expressed in their behavior and abilities. In his dissertation, Eike Buhr therefore investigates what the "value of privacy" (Rössler 2001) consists of for people with dementia. Due to the fact that no systematic research exists in this context, the analysis of the value of privacy requires not only a conceptual-philosophical discussion but also a socio-empirical exploration of the subjective perspective on the value of privacy of people with dementia.

The work is to be understood as a basic empirically-informed contribution that explores the value of privacy also for people with dementia under the impression of the challenges of a technically-assisted dementia care.

The Power of/in Solidarity – An Ethical Analysis of the Concept of Solidarity in the Public Media Discourse on Self-Tracking in Healthcare (Niklas Ellerich-Groppe)

The use of self-tracking data in healthcare is also topic of controversial debate in public media. Understood as the permanent gathering and analysis of bodily data by digital technologies, self-tracking is discussed in particular in connection with the concept of solidarity. This concept can be regarded as an essential, but controversially discussed normative reference point in this debate. For instance, while some emphasize the relief for the solidary healthcare system, others warn against an erosion of existing solidarity-based structures in healthcare due to differentiated risk profiles.

Against this backdrop, the doctoral project addresses the question, how the concept of solidarity is used in the public media discourse and how the different uses of the concept are to be evaluated ethically. To this end, the project combines moral-philosophical analysis and discourse analysis. In the moral-philosophical analysis, overarching elements of the concept of solidarity are identified. Then, referring to the power-theoretical foundations of solidarity, normative criteria for a morally substantial use of the concept of solidarity are elaborated. In a further step, different uses of the concept of solidarity are reconstructed in the public media discourse in leading newspapers. Finally, these different notions are evaluated ethically on the basis of the normative criteria.

The results of the project can contribute to a better understanding of the ethical consequences of self-tracking-technologies in healthcare. Furthermore, they help to evaluate the heterogenous uses of the concept of solidarity in the public discourse and allow conclusions for a legitimate, morally substantial use of solidarity in general.

Teleological Aspects of Life Concepts and Advance Directives (Lena Stange)

The dissertation project is about the meaning of concepts of good life and good dying within the discourse in medical ethics about advance care planning. Teleological motives for the (non-)creation of an advance directive are to be determined and their influence on individual planning is to be analysed with a view to the course of life.

In recent years, the discourse of medical ethics and law about advance care planning focused on the assertion of the right of self-determination at the end of life. However, it was largely neglected that within this novel scope of action fundamental teleological questions arise: What is a good life? How do I want to live and die? What role should medicine play therein?

The methodology for the dissertation project is designed with a qualitative approach. A biographically oriented semi-structured interview study is conducted. In 18 individual interviews with adults in life stage-specific age groups, values, images and associations with health and illness, age(ing), dying and death are to be identified, that characterize the handling of advance care planning and that motivate the (non-)drafting of a living will.

It is expected that the interviewees do have individual ideas about the good life and different concepts of self-determination, which, in respect to potential individual planning to varying degrees, are coherent with the preferences set out in an advance directive.

Problems of Medical Students in Addressing Racism in Medicine (Simon Matteo Gerhards)

Objectives/question: What problems do medical students have in addressing racism in the context of medicine and health care? The project aims for recommendations for dealing with racism in medicine in the German context.

Methods: The PhD project is part of the qualitative-explorative SoDiMe project. We conducted six online group discussions with a total of 32 medical students from 13 different German medical schools. Based on the results of a qualitative content analysis, this project focuses on selected topics for further analysis. Qualitative analysis methods based on the documentary method according to Bohnsack will be combined with an ethical analysis. 

Expected results: On the one hand, problems exist regarding the students' abilities to talk about racism and to recognize it as a multidimensional problem in medicine and health care. On the other hand, the discussants’ problems refer to institutional and structural problems, which impede the students’ critical discussion of racism. Accordingly, solutions should not only include the promotion of medical students’ anti-racist skills but also consider the relevance of institutional and structural conditions.

(Changed: 30 Sep 2022)