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Without 'informed consent'? Ethics and ancient mummy research


Kaufmann, I M; Rühli, Frank J (2010). Without 'informed consent'? Ethics and ancient mummy research. Journal of Medical Ethics, 36(10):608-613.

Abstract

Ethical issues are of foremost importance in modern bio-medical science. Ethical guidelines and socio-cultural public awareness exist for modern samples, whereas for ancient mummy studies both are de facto lacking. This is particularly striking considering the fact that examinations are done without informed consent or that the investigations are invasive due to technological aspects and that it affects personality traits. The aim of this study is to show the pro and contra arguments of ancient mummy research from an ethical point of view with a particular focus on the various stakeholders involved in this research. Relevant stakeholders in addition to the examined individual are, for example, a particular researcher, and the science community in general, likely descendents of the mummy or any future generation. Our broad discussion of the moral dilemma of mummy research should help to extract relevant decision-making criteria for any such study in future. We specifically do not make any recommendations about how to rate these decision-factors, since this is highly dependent on temporal and cultural affiliations of the involved researcher. The sustainability of modern mummy research is dependent on ethical orientation, which can only be given and eventually settled in an interdisciplinary approach such as the one we attempt to present here.

Abstract

Ethical issues are of foremost importance in modern bio-medical science. Ethical guidelines and socio-cultural public awareness exist for modern samples, whereas for ancient mummy studies both are de facto lacking. This is particularly striking considering the fact that examinations are done without informed consent or that the investigations are invasive due to technological aspects and that it affects personality traits. The aim of this study is to show the pro and contra arguments of ancient mummy research from an ethical point of view with a particular focus on the various stakeholders involved in this research. Relevant stakeholders in addition to the examined individual are, for example, a particular researcher, and the science community in general, likely descendents of the mummy or any future generation. Our broad discussion of the moral dilemma of mummy research should help to extract relevant decision-making criteria for any such study in future. We specifically do not make any recommendations about how to rate these decision-factors, since this is highly dependent on temporal and cultural affiliations of the involved researcher. The sustainability of modern mummy research is dependent on ethical orientation, which can only be given and eventually settled in an interdisciplinary approach such as the one we attempt to present here.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, not refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Evolutionary Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Anatomy
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2010
Deposited On:09 Nov 2010 13:49
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:15
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN:0306-6800
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1136/jme.2010.036608
PubMed ID:20671292

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