Marianne Boenink’s work in the ethics of biomedical technology first focussed on ethical issues in predictive medicine, in particular on the ethical impact of predictive DNA-testing for hereditary breast cancer. How do women confronted with this new technology deal with it, and how does it affect their view of the good life?
Her current research activities are part of an NWO-funded project entitled ‘Scenarios of future moral controversies on new biomedical technologies’ (together with Tsjalling Swierstra). In this project, a methodological framework is developed for anticipating future moral controversies caused by technological developments. Boenink contributed to this project a study of the moral debates on breast cancer screening in the Netherlands (1960-2002), in which she focussed in particular on the role of prudential arguments. Her claim is that these should be considered as part of morality, since they tend to foreclose important issues regarding the goal of a new technology.
She is currently working on a scenario study of biomedical nanotechnology, in which the lessons learned during the first part of the project are used to develop dynamic scenarios of future developments. Next to this research project, she is involved in a project on ‘Ethical aspects of converging technologies’ for the Dutch Rathenau Institute.
In coming years Boenink wants to build on these projects to investigate the role of uncertainties (scientific, technological, political, moral, or psychological) in the way new biomedical technologies are dealt with. We cannot avoid uncertainties. How can we deal with them in a morally legitimate way?