From X-phi to Bioxphi: Lessons in Conceptual Analysis 2.0

AJOB Empirical Bioethics 11 (1):34-36 (2020)
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Recent developments in experimental philosophy (‘x-phi’) suggest that there is a new way in which the empirical and normative dimensions of bioethics can be brought into successful dialogue with one another. It revolves around conceptual analysis – though not the kind of conceptual analysis one might perform in an armchair. Following Édouard Machery, this is Conceptual Analysis Rebooted. In short, morally-pertinent medical concepts like ‘treatment’, ‘euthanasia’ and ‘sanctity of life’ can each have several meanings that underwrite inferences with different moral implications. X-phi shows us that an experimental approach to conceptual analysis can make explicit the implicit structures that underpin our thinking about such concepts. By presenting concrete examples, I aim to offer a glimpse of an empirically-grounded, practically-normative 'bioxphi' that demystifies and distinguishes medical concepts, assesses the normative inferences these concepts dispose us to draw and revises those inferences that are deficient.

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Jonathan Lewis
University of Manchester


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