The research group will investigate cultural and culture-transcending
issues in bioethics. While it will contribute to comparative bioethics,
the interest also reaches out for systematic features, highlighting the
foundations of international, intercultural and interdisciplinary
understanding in bioethics. Among other things, it will provide
evidence for the relevance of a cultural perspective on bioethics for
humanity. It addresses diverse issues raised by the global activities
of biomedical technology and the world-wide disparity in bioethical
regulations. It scrutinises issues of global and regional
health-related justice, which are fuelled, e.g., by cultural
and ethnic re-configurations in the aftermath of migration. Special
will be paid to the empirical and conceptual impact of intra-cultural
for example, within the "West", on policy-making and decision-making.
generally, the purpose is to find out more about the fabric and
dynamics of cultural issues on many levels in applied ethics.
Ethical biomedical issues at the beginning of human life, for example,
in human medical genetics, assisted reproduction and "eugenics" in
medical research as in clinical practice, are a common focus. The
concepts, such as health and disease, and social issues, such as the
patient-doctor relationship in the respective countries and regions,
will be studied. Throughout the investigation, the meaning of "culture"
in ethics will be revisited. The group will identify normative claims
by certain cultures in bioethics and compare their foundations. It will
thus contribute to a better understanding and management of
within our global village.
In assessing the discourse, a common frame of questions will be
addressed. Who are the participants in the discourse? What are the main
issues? Which are the leading opinions and tendencies? How are certain
concepts, such as "personhood", the "human being", or "community"
evaluated? Whose interests matter? What are the determining political,
social, demographic, or economic factors, and how are they reflected
within the discourse? These and other questions will guide the projects
on the individual
level, and help them to combine, compare and analyse the findings as
On this basis it shall be attempted to identify the main lines
of conflict and agreement between cultures in bioethics. The discussion
will explore potential normative clues and procedures for maintaining
differences under conditions of mutual respect, learning, and
the contemporary dominance of "Western" styles and concepts, this
tries to find out how bioethics could benefit from integrating cultural
perspectives and ethical concepts from different cultures. This
is expected to reinforce a general model of ethics that transcends mere
utilitarian and pragmatic tendencies. The tension between cultural
and universalism will be treated with particular attention.
The research group "Culture-transcending Bioethics. Conditions,
Prospects, and Challenges" brings together the following individual
1 Concepts of the Human Being in Current Bioethics in China
China, with her wealth in human capital and cultures, her booming
economy and research, her increasing engagement in the international
arena, and her claim to probe into particular "Chinese ways" towards
modernity, has become representative for developing countries. China
might become a key in the formation of a cross-cultural bioethics.
This project focuses on the ways the "human being" is addressed in
contemporary China’s bioethics, referring to the Mainland, Hong Kong
and Taiwan. It assesses concepts with a claim to be fundamental or
typical for China’s culture, as expressed in certain practices, e.g. in
(contact: Prof. Dr. Heiner Roetz, Ruhr-University Bochum, Chinese
History and Philosophy, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
; Dr. des. Ole Doering, email: email@example.com
2 Bioethical Conflicts and Concepts of the Human Being in Japan.
An Investigation of the Intellectual Discourse, Institutional
Regulation and Public Opinion Making, and their Combined Impact
Japan is the only Asian country whose level of modernization is on a
par with that of the Northern Atlantic industrialized countries.
She is therefore a significant object for cross-cultural research, as
well as an important partner in the international dialogue.
This project treats bioethical conflicts in Japan from three different
thematic and methodological perspectives. It will explore (a) the
philosophical dimension of the debate, especially the normative
concepts related to the human being in Japanese bioethics, and the
arguments brought forth in favour of these norms; (b) the dimension of
bioethical policy making, i.e. the ways how institutions and politics
generate regulations concerning biotechnology; (c) the social dimension
of bioethics in Japan,
with a focus on society’s value orientations regarding bioethics.
attention will be given to contributions that emphasize a specifically
Japanese orientation in values relevant for bioethics.
(contact: Prof. Dr. Josef Kreiner, Bonn University, Japanese Studies,
; Prof Dr. Wolfgang Marx, Bonn University, Philosophy; Dr.
Christian Steineck, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
(a); Dr. Robert Horres, email:
(b); Dr. Dieter
3 Discourses in Bioethics in South-Korea
South-Korea belongs among the most important Asian countries in terms
of economic strength and political influence. Its progression towards
modernity has been depicted as a model, making Korea’s modern
development a first rank issue of scientific interest. Recently, Korea
has set up ambitious and rather advanced biotechnology programmes.
Korean society is significant as a melting pot of many different
cultures providing an exemplary case for studies of the impact of
cultures on bioethics.
This project will give an account of the current bioethics debate and
the state of the art in biotechnology in South Korea. It will focus on
the concepts of the identity and integrity of human life, as reflected
in discussions of issues of human genetics and abortion. It will study
recent trends in the development of the discourse, identify patterns of
argument, and register the relevant normative terminology, by an
analysis of debates in public, political and experts’ circles, with an
additional special focus on the Christian communities. Traditional
concepts of the human being as can be found in traditional Korean
medical ethics will also be described.
(Contact: Prof. Dr. Marion Eggert, Ruhr-University Bochum, Korean
Studies, email: email@example.com
; Prof. Dr. Christofer Frey, Ruhr-University Bochum, Ev. Theology,
; Dr. Phillan Joung, email:
; Dr. des. Huh Joon, email:
4 Buddhist Bioethics. Foundations and Current Positions
Buddhist doctrines and ethical paradigms are of crucial significance
for Asia. This project focuses on the description and analysis of
contemporary Buddhist discussions in bioethics, with a particular
interest in the
Theravâda and Mahâyâna traditions. Special attention
will be reserved for themes, such as human cloning, where according to
Buddhist tradition, ethical problems are seen in ways that differ
from those of the "West".
It will also investigate the anthropological and philosophical
foundations of the respective positions in bioethics. The guiding
will be, how doctrines, such as the Karma, reincarnation, the concept
of personhood and the maxim of "doing no harm" can be reconstructed to
fit into the current bioethics debates.
(Contact: Prof. Dr. Konrad Klaus, Bonn University, Indology, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
; Dr. Jens Schlieter, email:
5 Bioethical Issues in the Context of Islamic Law and its
Interpretation by Members of the Medical Porfessions
This project is dedicated to the current inner-Islamic ethical
discussion, which devotes much attention to bioethical issues. This
topic is obviously relevant for cross-cultural studies in bioethics,
given the significant number of societies influenced by Islam.
The project focuses on the relationship between the paradigmatic
concepts and legal reasoning in Islamic jurisprudence and medicine
among contemporary Muslim physicians. It attempts to elaborate
relevant for bioethics, together with their fundamental principles,
in the context of Islam. This will be discussed as a timely example
to explore the role and range of Islamic law in matters of
(Contact: Prof. Dr. Gerhard Endress, Ruhr-University Bochum, Oriental
Studies, email: email@example.com
, Dr. Thomas Eich, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
6 Utilitarian Culture of versus Normative Culture. Intra-cultural
Differences in "Western" Bioethics
This philosophical project explores a fundamental structural conflict,
which can be found in European bioethics. Here, a rigoristic type of
ethics, which maintains the absolute protection of human dignity and
the protection of all forms of human life, on the one hand, is
with a utilitarian type of ethics, which tends to buy the benefit of
an enhanced quality of life for a majority of people for the price of
accepting a reduced status of the rights of other human beings. This
conflict bears its effects on contemporary legislation. This impact
be discussed as related to the European history of different traditions
of philosophy of law.
This project draws attention to the fact that cultural difference, as a
cause of ethical conflict, cannot be reduced to a problem of a
contradiction between the "West" and other cultures. It shows how it
can be helpful to identify cultural differences within the "West", or
other cultural regions, respectively. Thereby, we are informed about
the historical developments and traditions behind "our" ethical
consciousness, which can instruct us in coping with the challenges of
biomedical progress, without being entrapped by cultural tensions,
inconsistencies and dilatoric compromises.
(Contact: Prof. Dr. Walter Schweidler, Ruhr-University Bochum,
Philosophy, email: email@example.com
, Dr. Thomas Sören Hoffmann, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
7 The Concept of Informed Consent and its Concrete Application in
The increasing number of international cooperations in health care and
health research requires a common basis. Normative documents like
declarations or guidelines have to rely on bioethical key concepts that
can serve as a cross-cultural basis. Informed Consent as a precondition
for therapeutic or research interventions is such a concept. It is,
however, a general, underdetermined principle that needs to be
concretize daccording to the respective socio-cultural context: it can,
for instance, be understood as a predominantly individual
decision-making process or rather as a
social process ("community consent"). Bioethics in different countries
and cultures might come to different conclusions in that regard.
The project aims to analyse such differences in a way that avoids an
inadequate polarization between East and West. In a second step, it
will ask about the implications for the use of the concept of "Informed
Consent" in normative documents issued by international organizations,
such as WHO and UNESCO.
(Contact: Prof. Dr. Claudia Wiesemann, Goettingen University, Ethics
and History of Medicine, email: email@example.com
; Prof. Dr. Dr. Nicola Biller-Andorno, Institute of Medical Ethics,
Charité - University Medicine Berlin, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
8 Cross-cultural Health Literacy. Historical Roots and Current
This project introduces the concept of health literacy
("Gesundheitsmuendigkeit"), as it can be found in regulations and
admonitions for health care, healthy nutrition, a good life and
preventing disease, according to relevant
historical and contemporary documents of medical literature in China,
the Near East, and Europe.
This project approaches the issue of culture in medicine from the
grass-root perspective of patients and customers of medicine in
different cultures. Hereby, the focus is on the users of medical
products, so as to be better prepared to comprehend the problems,
motives of action and values in everyday’s medical and pharmaceutical
practice. The expected results
shall be made available in order to inform the beginning discussion
the capacities and limits of predictive and preventive medicine, as
of the emerging global markets.
AIDS Policy in USA/Germany and China
In this project, the policies of two culture spheres, i.e., USA/Germany
and P.R. China are compared in order to examine how different political
systems and cultural backgrounds shape the respective reactions to a
common threat, in this case: the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and to what degree
these differences are responsible for parallels and differences in the
ethical decisions taken in this situation. These descisions include how
to communicate with the major groups at risk, whether to involve the
entire population, how
to balance the rights of individuals with the welfare of society, how
define culpability, and whether to stress re-integration and education
or expulsion and criminalization of persons with a risky lifestyle.
The project should enable us to understand how, in an age of increasing
globalization and cultural and scientific exchanges, regions with
different cultural identities and socio-political systems can maintain
idiosyncratic ethical positions vis-à-vis a common bio-ethical
(Contact: Prof. Dr. Paul Ulrich Unschuld, Munich University, History of
Medicine, email: email@example.com
The organisers invite bioethicists with an interest in cultural issues
as partners to co-operate and welcome critical comments and suggestions
in line with the major purposes. We thank all who have supported us up
to now with their advice and their readiness to co-operate.
An internet website is under construction (
). It is planned to make research
results available in electronic
and printed form, depending on the work in progress.
For all inquiries, please contact Prof. Dr. Heiner Roetz (speaker, firstname.lastname@example.org
), Dr. des.
Ole Doering (email@example.com
), or Dr. Hu Hsiang-ling (co-ordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org
Prof. Dr. Heiner Roetz
Fakultaet fuer Ostasienwissenschaften
Tel 0049-234-3226254 Fax 3214440