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IAS Fellows’ Seminar – The interplay between facts and values in the evaluation of healthcare technology

January 14 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

14th January 2019, 13:00 to 14:00, Seminar Room, Institute of Advanced Study, Professor Gert Jan van der Wilt (Radboud University)

‘No human being can exist without values, yet with the rise of the modern scientific worldview it has become increasingly complicated to clarify their nature and relationship to the empirical sciences.’ Michiel Meijer (2017), Charles Taylor’s doctrine of strong evaluation.

While novel healthcare technologies are being developed at an unprecedented rate, societies are grappling with getting a hold of how those technologies promote or challenge their core values. In recent years, a rather instrumental approach has been developed to address this question, consisting of the collection of evidence of the safety and clinical and cost-effectiveness of healthcare technologies, alongside with information on their wider ethical, legal and social issues (‘ELSI’). This approach sets up a strong distinction between facts and values and is unable to provide an account of how these two are related. Drawing on the work by the Hungarian-born, Australian philosopher Julius Kovesi (1930 – 1989), Professor Gert Jan van der Wilt will draw an outline of an alternative model for evaluating healthcare technologies. In this model, description and evaluation are not entirely separate activities. Evaluations are not layered onto neutral descriptions but already embedded in our descriptions. The facts that are being collected in the context of the evaluation of healthcare technologies are those that are considered relevant in view of our commitment to and understanding of specific moral values. This opens up new ways of exploring how the development and use of specific healthcare technologies promote or challenge a society’s values. The model will be illustrated using the example of Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT), contrasting it with currently prevailing approaches of evaluating novel healthcare technologies.

Contact enquiries.ias@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.


January 14
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Event Category:


Durham IAS