Science and Ethics
We investigate moral cognition, judgement and behavior within a science-based philosophical approach.
- How do people evaluate moral situations? What is the role and functioning of intuition in these evaluations? What primary psychological mechanisms are involved?
- What motivates people to follow moral standards and sanction deviances?
- What is altruistic behaviour and how does it work?
- What are the drivers of availability to others?
- How can we better communicate, understand others’ needs and provide adequate help?
Based on our ethical analyses and on empirical data, we develop practical solutions to promote respectful behaviour and appropriate communication in a variety of academic and professional contexts.
- How can students and researchers be nudged towards integrity ?
- How can communication and interaction between patients and health professionals be optimized to ensure quality of care and mutual respect?
We are interested in the ethical issues generated by new technologies and scientific knowledge.
- On the basis of what criteria can we evaluate the acceptability of science-based nudging interventions and technologies aimed at orienting people’s behavior?
- How can we ensure an adequate use of new technologies and medical advances that are available on a large scale?
We work across disciplines and merge knowledge and research methods specific to various disciplines, including philosophy, biology, psychology, sociology, behavioural economics and mathematical modelling.
The project is supported by the Fondation des HUG, and conducted in collaboration with the centre de l'innovation des HUG.
One of the priorities of medicine is to treat patients as closely as possible to their values. The process of advance care planning (ACP) serves this end. It consists of identifying, in discussion with patients, what their priorities in life are, and what care they would (or would not) like to receive in a crisis situation. In the day-to-day reality of care, ACP is often difficult to initiate and to carry out, notably because it is not easy for patients and for care teams, to address the topic of end of life.
To help break the ice and facilitate this discussion process, we have developed Anticip'action. It is a card game that helps to identify what is most important to us in life, to describe and express our values and priorities, and to plan concrete actions based on these reflections. Using this serious game in a hospital context helps to address ACP issues and define which objectives of care or limits to medical interventions correspond to patients' values.
Anticip'action is available to healthcare teams at the HUG in cardboard format, and to patients in printable or digital format via the free HUG Concerto application.
As part of a research project being carried out in the nephrology unit at the HUG, we are currently testing the feasibility of an ACP intervention using Anticip'action as a tool.
Christine Clavien coordinates the différent aspects of this projet in collaboration with Antoine Berger, Catherine Bollondi, Gora Da Rocha, Anne Dufey-Teso, Frédéric Ehrler, Monica Escher, Pascale Lefuel, Virginie Metoukam Bauquis, Céline Schöpfer, Inès Serre, Jelena Stanic.
This projet is supported by the Fondation privée des HUG, and by the direction of care at the HUG.
- 2020 : projet sélectionné dans les highlights par le jury du hackathon national Versus Virus.
- , Da Rocha G, Escher M, Dufey-Teso A, [conf abstract] Advance care planning with a conversation game: a feasibility and acceptability study.
Scientific integrity should be a cornerstone of research. Unfortunately, the teaching of Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) remains fragmented. It too often depends on the personal interest and willingness of teachers who have not had the opportunity to receive a full training themselves. The INTEGRITY project aims at developing pedagogical tools that will then be made available to teachers. It also aims at developing strategies for motivating teachers and students to address RCR topics.
Within this project, our group will design and test nudging interventions for promoting the teaching of RCR topics and for facilitating integer behavior itself.
The project entitled “INTEGRITY: development of innovative, evidence-based tools for teaching research integrity to students and early career researchers” is funded by the European Union, has started in January 2019. It is led by Mariëtte van den Hoven (Utrecht University) and Christine Clavien’s group (involving Abha Saxena, Aurélien Allard, and Céline Schöpfer) is one of the main partners of the consortium.
- (2023) Grey zones and good practice: A European survey of academic integrity among undergraduate students, Ethics & Behavior,
- Goddiksen MP, Johansen MW, Armond AC, Clavien C, Hogan L, Kovács N, et al. (2023) “The person in power told me to”—European PhD students’ perspectives on guest authorship and good authorship practice. PLoS ONE 18(1): e0280018. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0280018
- Johansen, M.W., Goddiksen, M.P., Centa, M., Clavien, C., et al. Lack of ethics or lack of knowledge? European upper secondary students’ doubts and misconceptions about integrity issues. Int J Educ Integr 18, 20 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40979-022-00113-0
Attempts to bridge evolutionary psychology and ethics generate heated debates. On the one hand, there is the worry that old social-darwinian or eugenic ideas are brought back under the cover of a dubious pseudo-scientific rhetoric. On the other hand, it seems that one cannot reasonably take a stance on what is morally expected and required while ignoring growing knowledge about the human natural (and evolved) faculties involved in social interactions.
We aim at developing a systematic overview of how knowledge and arguments stemming from evolutionary psychology can (and have been) recruited in three main domains of ethics: descriptive ethics, normative ethics, and practical ethics.
Christine Clavien & Florian Cova, “Evolutionary Psychology and Ethics”, in T. K. Shackelford (ed.), The SAGE Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology, SAGE Publications, 2021, pp. 379-402
The importance of being open and present to another, or, as Gabriel Marcel calls it, being available, is widely acknowledged, both in and outside academia. This attitude is taken to be important to develop a non-conflictual relationship where the other feels understood and valued. However, it is usually not explained what it means to be open and present.
While the affective side of our relationships with others has attracted a lot of academic attention, especially empathy and compassion, the role that our cognitive attitude towards the other plays in our relationship has not raised as much interest. Being open and present seems indeed to be related to the way we pay attention to the other and try to understand her, but it is not clear what type of attention or understanding is at stake and what its impact on our relationships with others is.
There was a burst of interest in this question in the first half of the 20th century and authors such as Martin Buber, Gabriel Marcel and Simone Weil discussed it. But none of them provided a systematic account of this attitude and attention to it remained marginal. However, if availability toward others play the important role it is taken to have in our relationships with others, it deserves more attention and it needs to be more precisely studied.
The aim of this research project is first to describe more precisely the attitude of availability in order to get a good grasp of the phenomenon and understand what is meant when we speak about being open and present. This will enable us to clarify the role that this attitude plays in our relationships with others. Second, if the importance of availability for successful relationships is confirmed, we will see how the new understanding of availability its impacts can be used to teach and promote this attitude more effectively. For this project we will look at one context in which availability seems especially important: the relationship between patients and health care professionals.
Elodie Malbois' PhD completed in 2020
- Elodie Malbois & Christine Clavien. “Overcoming the Limits of Empathic Concern: The Case for Availability and Its Application to the Medical Domain”, Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 23, 191–203 (2020).
- Elodie Malbois & Nicolas Foureur, “La contention nocturne en gériatrie : faut-il toujours l’éviter ou oser se poser la question au cas par cas ? ” Bioethica Forum, Bioethica Forum, 12:3/4 (2019).
- Elodie Malbois “Gabriel Marcel: Intersubjectivity as Reciprocal Availability”, in Phenomenological Approaches to Intersubjectivity and Values, Luis Aguiar de Sousa and Ana Falcato eds., Cambridge Scholar Publishing: Cambridge, 2019