Applying the ecosystem approach to global bioethics: building on the Leopold legacy

Global Bioethics 34 (1):2280289 (2023)
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For Van Rensselaer Potter (1911–2001), Global Bio-Ethics is about building on the legacy of Aldo Leopold (1887–1948), one of the most notable forest managers of the twentieth century who brought to light the importance of pragmatism in the sciences and showed us a new way to proceed with environmental ethics. Following Richard Huxtable and Jonathan Ives's methodological 'Framework for Empirical Bioethics Research Projects' called 'Mapping, framing, shaping,' published in BMC Medicine Ethics (2019)), we propose operationalizing a framework for Global Bio-Ethics by hybridizing approaches in empirical bioethics and ecosystem management. We explain this framework using the metaphor of forest management. This mixed approach is articulated through three phases: (1) mapping the “landscape” to build a working theory, (2) framing the “scene” to prepare the fieldwork, and (3) shaping bioethics “tools” to stimulate cooperation. Applying this methodology, an adaptive management cycle is outlined to help ensure that political processes are sustainable and socially acceptable, still based on strategic and ethical thinking, but also capable of reshaping failing policies.

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