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Posted on February 7, 2019

The Limits of Consent

4TU.Ethics Taskforce Life Sciences and Health Technologies

This workshop at Eindhoven University of Technology, co-sponsored by the Life Sciences and Health Technologies Taskforce of the 4TU Centre for Ethics and Technology, and the NWO-MVI project “Mobile Support Systems for Behaviour Change”, was held in order to stimulate interdisciplinary and applied research on the ethics of consent. It brought together research projects from several universities and addresses the problem of how to create a new framework for consent in social and technological practice. As part of the workshop on 14th December 2018, we explored possible funding sources and valorization partners, and the possibility of a joint 4TU.Ethics funding application.

Professor Mark Sheehan of the University of Oxford was the keynote speaker. Other speakers included Lotte Asveld, Marcel Verweij, Iris Loosman, Naomi Jacobs, and Samantha Copeland.

In total, there were eighteen participants from the following institutions: TU Delft, TU Eindhoven, University of Twente, Wageningen University, Oxford University, the state intellectual property office of China, and Philips Research.

At the conclusion of the workshop, five thematic hypotheses were identified by the participants as meriting further research, for use in potential funding applications and valorization efforts:

  • Because models of consent are diverse, the physician-patient relationship is a poor starting point for modeling the idea of consent.
  • Technologies and technological practices differ greatly in how they feature consent issues.
  • There is an interplay between discrete acts of consent, and political consent.
  • Trust is at least as important as autonomy as a theme within consent.
  • Practices of consent must accommodate legitimate cases in which there is uncertainty regarding the outcome, the treatment, the purpose, and the entities involved.

Some important funding opportunities were also identified with help from participants and from one of the project officers from TU Eindhoven. In particular, the Dutch NWO’s Top Grant program and some of the themes from the Dutch Nationale Wetenschapsagenda were identified as highly relevant.

Main organizer: Philip J. Nickel

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