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7 - Breathing Life into Law

What It Means to Take an Ethics+ Approach to Conceptualising Law in Research Governance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 December 2021

Edward S. Dove
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh
Niamh Nic Shuibhne
Affiliation:
University of Edinburgh
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Summary

The lived experience of law in medical practice and research is typified by intricate, sometimes complex and often mundane (perhaps even ritualistic) procedural requirements. While some scholars have been content thus to limit the normativity of law, Graeme reminds us that law is interconnected with ethics and that its distinctiveness may be better understood as process, particularly in boundary or liminal spaces where the roles of ethics and law are blurred. This processual conception of law is in turn a component of governance regimes that he depicts as ‘Ethics+’. He argues that ethics is always a necessary component of a robust and defensible regime of health research that is rooted in the core values and principles at stake while concurrently enabling adaptation and accommodation. Law as an ‘Ethics+’ governance regime embraces uncertainty and the liminal nature of the health research journey, while admitting value-based objectives that can act as foci for stakeholders. The chapter shows the bright beacon dimension of Graeme’s legacy, which points the way to a rich, non-formalistic account of law – not simply as law in action or law on the books but as law subsisting in-between.

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Law and Legacy in Medical Jurisprudence
Essays in Honour of Graeme Laurie
, pp. 149 - 166
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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